Brown Jumps To No. 1 At The Big Go

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Hot off winning the U.S. Nationals, Antron Brown begins the chase for the NHRA Top Fuel championship this weekend at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. (NHRA photo)
Antron Brown was the top qualifier in the Top Fuel division at the U.S. Nationals Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (NHRA photo)

CLERMONT, Ind. – Antron Brown raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel Saturday at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Cruz Pedregon, Greg Anderson and Matt Smith stayed in the provisional top spots in their respective categories at the 16th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the final race before the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, the six-race playoffs to determine the world championships.

Brown powered his Matco Tools dragster to the top of the field Saturday night with an impressive run of 3.818-seconds at 322.96 mph on the final pass of the Top Fuel session. If it stands it would be his second No. 1 qualifier of the season, 28th of his career and second No. 1 qualifier at Lucas Oil Raceway, a track where he has two Pro Stock Motorcycle wins but has yet to collect a Top Fuel win at the prestigious race.

“We came out here last week and tested a whole variety of things we wanted to test,” said Brown. “We came up with some stuff and have just been running the same package that we have run all year and will run the rest of the season. Brian (Corradi, co-crew chief) and Mark (Oswald, co-crew chief) and the boys have just been refining it and just making it better and better.”

Defending event winner and four-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Larry Dixon sits in the fifth spot after three qualifying sessions, while current points leader Del Worsham is fourth with two qualifying sessions remaining.

In Funny Car, Pedregon and his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry stayed in the provisional No. 1 spot with a Saturday night run of 4.071 at 301.54. If it stands it would be his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season, 43rd of his career and first at Lucas Oil Raceway.

“The first run yesterday was a great run in the heat,” said Pedregon. “The second we just were trying to take it down the track and were just too slow. But the last run tonight, I never like to use the phrase ‘going for it,’ but we take advantage of the conditions and we made a calculated guess at what the track would handle and we put it together and like we’ve done all year, the car hung on and man, it was haulin’ down there.”

Seattle winner Tim Wilkerson currently sits in the second spot in the field, while four-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner and defending world champion John Force is in the provisional seventh spot.

In Pro Stock, Anderson kept his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP at the top of the class when he posted a 6.629 at 208.01 during the third qualifying session. If it stands, it would be his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 76th of his career.

“It’s absolutely presenting a heck of a challenge out there,” said Anderson. “We’ve had three completely different conditions to start with. We had hot, hot, hot air last night. Today we had hot, hot, hot air and a really hot race track. Everyone slowed down a bunch but we didn’t; we hit the bulls eye pretty good. Tonight we came out and now the air’s starting to cool down, the race track cooled down, we got a little better air, everyone improved and so did we.”

Smith and his Haltech Affliction Redline Buell stayed at the top of the field in Pro Stock Motorcycle with his Friday night run of 6.954 at 190.97. If it stands, it would be Smith’s first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 19th of his career.

Qualifying will continue tomorrow will sessions at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eliminations will begin Monday at 11 a.m.