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Antron Brown Advances to Semifinals from No. 4 Seed at NHRA Winternationals

After a disappointing first-round exit during the NHRA Arizona Nationals a week prior, Antron Brown and his Matco Tools Top Fuel team came out swinging this weekend at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. to rebound in a big way.
 
Leaving Phoenix, Brown had a goal of securing a ‘top five’ starting position at the series’ third event of the year. Last year’s Top Fuel runner-up began his weekend at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip by unloading with a stout pass in the first round of qualifying. Brown launched hard and kept his Matco Tools dragster hooked up to clock the third-quickest run of the session. His 3.730 E.T. held up to be the fourth-quickest run of qualifying, pitting him against No. 11 qualifier Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations.
 
The three-time Top Fuel world champion began his march to the semifinal round by unleashing a monster 3.690-second run to defeat Kalitta’s instant tire smoker. The pass was the first sub-3.7-second run clocked during the weekend and held up to be one of only two 3.6-second passes recorded during the event. In round two, Brown moved first and powered to the finish line stripe in 3.733 seconds to outpace Mike Salinas’ 3.769-second effort and set up a semifinal match with Justin Ashley.
 
The round-three showdown with Brown’s technical alliance teammate was a nail-biter of a race. Brown and Ashley were machine-like on the tree, posting nearly identical reaction times, but Ashley’s slight starting line advantage (0.047 vs. Brown’s 0.049) coupled with his 3.743-second E.T. gave him the slight edge to cross the beams first, defeating Brown in a race that was won by a mere eight-thousandths of a second.
 
“It was a good weekend here at Pomona for our Matco Tools team with Lucas Oil and Toyota and FVP and our great partners,” said Brown. “We came out and qualified where we wanted to and that’s in the top five. We got the No. 4 spot and felt good about it. We wanted to go for that No. 1 spot on Saturday and had a few gremlins, but threw down first round with that 3.69 for low E.T. (tied) with Brittany (Force) and a big mile per hour. We ran big speeds all weekend.
 
“I’m super pumped and super happy with how this team is progressing. We made the semifinals after a tough first-round race a week ago at Phoenix and made it into the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge at Joliet (Ill.) in May. We’re looking forward to Vegas in a few weeks. It’s a four-wide event, and we love those and so do the fans.”
 
Brown and his No. 9 ranked AB Motorsports team will hit The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 14-16, where Brown returns as a five-time Las Vegas winner.

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