Antron Brown’s hopes for a triumphant return to Route 66 Raceway were dashed Sunday morning when he fell in the opening round of eliminations at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals, the first NHRA national event at the Chicagoland track since 2019. He was one of numerous drivers to struggle to get down the track, ending a weekend that saw the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster show plenty of promise in qualifying.
Brown, who has won at Chicago three times in Top Fuel and twice in Pro Stock Motorcycle, made the quickest pass of the second qualifying session, a 3.736-second effort, to earn three bonus points. Another bonus point followed in the final session when Brown and crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald threw down a 3.720-second E.T. at 330.55 MPH to move up to the No. 5 spot for the Sunday show.
In the first round of eliminations, Brown and opponent Josh Hart both struggled to get traction. After pedaling his Matco Tools dragster for the second time, a quick flash of flames signaled the end of Brown’s day.
“The track threw us a curveball, like many (in the first round),” Brown said. “And for me, it’s my fault. I just pedaled it too quick. If I had pedaled it right, I think that we would’ve had a good chance of winning that round. We tore some stuff up, but I’m going to learn and work on my end. We just need to keep it going and just figure out how we can get better. We’re definitely going to be better, and I’m looking forward to going to Epping. We have these next couple of weeks to get our stuff back together. There’s still a lot of racing left, so I’m just going to suck it up and get after it.”
While it was an early end to eliminations, Brown is pleased with the momentum his AB Motorsports team built up in qualifying. It was the second time this season the multi-time world champion has qualified in the top five.
“We definitely made some strides and we got a positive out of this weekend where we qualified in the top five,” said Brown, who already has one win in his second season as a team owner. “We got four bonus points and we’re learning how to run our car. We’re coming into our combination. It’s only a matter of time until we hit it off.”
Brown and the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster will be back on track in two weeks at the NHRA New England Nationals, June 2-4, at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.
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