BRAINERD, Minn. – Top Fuel driver Antron Brown raced to his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int’l Raceway.
John Force (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the penultimate race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.
Brown will try to score his sixth win of the season and continue to chase series leader Doug Kalitta when he faces J.R. Todd in the first round of eliminations. Brown, who won this race in 2011, took the 37th No. 1 of his career and his third Brainerd top qualifying effort with a performance of 3.810 seconds at 318.77 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.
“We were pushing to run better,” said Brown, who edged Kalitta for the top spot in a thrilling side-by-side pass to close out Top Fuel qualifying. “The cloud cover came in, and we were trying to run quicker. My guys did an incredible job. We’ll take that No. 1. Those are three more bonus points for the run and a couple points for qualifying No. 1.”
With only two races remaining before the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins, Brown knows that he doesn’t have much time if he’s going to grab the top seed in the class for the playoffs.
“We’re going to focus on that tough first-round matchup with J.R. Todd,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a really good race. We’re going to go after it and take it one round at a time.”
Kalitta will start second in his Mac Tools dragster with his Friday leading run of 3.812 at 322.96 and defending world champ Shawn Langdon qualified third in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.815 at 321.27.