Brown, the defending world champion in Top Fuel, moved to second in the points standings by powering his Matco Tools dragster to a run of 3.782 at 324.51 in the final round against Clay Millican, who went 3.822 at 322.50 in his Parts Plus dragster. Brown claimed his fourth victory this season and 25th in his career, and trails points leader Shawn Langdon by 102 points heading into the final event.
“We struggled in the middle of this year, but what I’m proud of the most is the way we just kept our heads down and never gave up,” Brown said. “We just put our head down and worked harder. We just kept on digging.”
Langdon, who was the No. 1 qualifier, lost to Millican in the semifinals but still holds a commanding lead in the points race in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster. Brown, who beat Bob Vandergriff, Tony Schumacher and Brandon Bernstein to reach the final round, knows it will take something special at the final event in Pomona to earn a second straight championship.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” Brown said. “We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. We’re going to try and go for those qualifying points and qualify in the top half. Our team knows that we’ve been losing some crucial qualifying points and in Pomona that’s what we’ve got to go for, and we’ve got to take it one round at a time and give it everything we’ve got.”
Pro Stock’s Gray picked up his first win in more than two years and third of his career with a holeshot victory against V. Gaines. Gray, who moved to fourth in points, posted a winning time of 6.699 at 206.89 in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro, and his quicker .032 reaction time overcame Gaines’ quicker, but losing Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger, which finished in 6.698 at 207.46.
“The team needed a day like this,” Gray said. “I got a big boost of confidence today and it’s amazing what winning will do. It lets you know that you are still capable of doing this and anytime you can win a round on a holeshot I think you’ve done something special.”
Jeg Coughlin extended his points lead in Pro Stock by advancing to the semifinals before falling to Gaines. He now holds a 71-point lead over second-place Jason Line. Mike Edwards is 80 points back in third, while Gray trails Coughlin by 84 points.
“I’m looking forward to Pomona now,” Gray said. “I think we’ll be even tougher now. These cars are getting more and more difficult to run and the driver is so important now. The Countdown escalates everyone’s performance two notches.”