LAS VEGAS – As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series nears the conclusion of the 2012 season, the battle atop the points standings in Top Fuel is heating up as teams head to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Oct. 26-28.
Matco Tools pilot Antron Brown and FRAM/Prestone driver Spencer Massey sit first and second in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship points standings and are separated by 104 points.
Brown, who is attempting to become the first African-American to win a major motorsports series title, claimed six wins and three No.1 qualifying positions so far this season. The final two races of the playoffs are crucial as he works to put the finishing touches on his first Top Fuel world championship.
“We’re basically going to the last two races keeping our head down, and we want to stay on the offensive side, keep attacking,” Brown said. “We have got to keep attacking if we want to have the hopes to actually bring this championship home. And that’s the way we’re looking at these last two races is that they’re do or die. We’ve got to go in and not leave one i undotted and one t uncrossed, and we’ve got to go in there and just keep digging and digging, and hopefully we can be there at the end and contend and try to bring this championship home.”
Keeping an eye on the prize and not letting distractions get in the way have been proven before as successful keys to winning. Luckily for Brown, having a champion’s attitude comes naturally and having a strong team makes it even better.
“You’ve just got to stay humble,” Brown said. “You’ve just got to appreciate the guys that make it happen because you can look at our team, Tony, Spencer and myself, that, yeah, we have confidence in ourselves that we go out in a car and get a job done, but all three of us would be nothing if we didn’t have the stout teams that we have.”
Massey has also had a successful 2012 season, racing to four victories, three No.1 qualifying positions and winning the inaugural Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel that came with a $100,000 paycheck. The pressure is on as he tries to run down teammate Brown in the Countdown to the Championship, but feels anything can happen during the final two races of the season.
“We’re going to get out there and try to get as many rounds and try and get a Wally or two before the end of the season,” Massey said. “With only two races left, it makes everybody hungry to at least get another Wally with only two of them sitting out there. And if stuff happens to fall for guys where it changes to where it makes it close at the Pomona race, we’ll see. But right now obviously our goal would be to stay No. 2 in points, and if it happens to be, we can try and get the No. 1 spot. But let me tell you, with Antron doing how he’s been doing, it’s a tough one.”
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been good to Massey in the past, as the Texas native driver won the fall event in 2009, made a final round appearance in the fall of 2011 and took home the Wally in the 2012 spring race. Needless to say, he’s looking to sweep Las Vegas this year.
“I don’t mind Vegas,” Massey said. “I mean, I tend to do kind of well there. I got my second win ever there with Don Prudhomme Racing, and obviously the final round there a year ago for the fall race against Del Worsham and then winning in the spring, so I like racing there. Obviously it’s Vegas; we all have a good reason to like to go there from hanging out on The Strip to actually racing on the drag strip. It’s always a fun place, and it makes it that much more special whenever you’re racing for so much meaning, meaning that you’re racing for the championship, for the Countdown. I can’t wait to get there.”
Also in striking distance of winning the title is U.S. Army Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher with two wins and three No.1 qualifying positions on the season, Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon with one victory and Brandon Bernstein, who has had two-runner up finishes this season in his ProtectTheHarvest.com dragster.