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Antron Brown Drops Tough First-Round Match at NHRA New England Nationals

Even though Antron Brown rolled into the NHRA New England Nationals as the most recent Top Fuel winner on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series tour, he suffered a first-round exit in a marquee matchup Sunday morning at New England Dragway. Brown left the starting line first in his Matco Tools/Lucas Oil/Toyota dragster, but tire smoke ended his day early. Still, the three-time world champion leaves Epping No. 5 in the point standings.
 
Brown, who earned his milestone 75th career NHRA national event win at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals near Chicago two weeks ago, started his Epping weekend on a positive note as he charged to the fourth-quickest pass of the first qualifying session on Friday, a 3.766-second E.T. at 330.80 MPH. Though co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald also led Brown to another clean pass in the final session, his first run stood as his quickest effort in qualifying. That put Brown in the No. 9 spot on the final order after a total of four qualifying sessions.
 
Brown, the 2016 event champion and runner-up in 2017-2018, entered Sunday eliminations as one half of NHRA’s Marquee Matchup. Motorsports icon Tony Stewart, who qualified No. 8, made up the other half. Brown grabbed a sizable holeshot advantage, but he was also the first of the two wheelmen to drive into tire smoke. He had to coast across the finish line with a 4.436 E.T. at 200.38 MPH while the win light came on in Stewart’s lane.
 
“We went out there and qualified well, and going into race day, we gave it all we got,” Brown said. “The track was just really tricky. It was a tough first-round matchup with Tony Stewart. All things considered, it was a decent weekend for the Matco car. We’re still growing. We learned a lot this weekend. We’re going to take what we learned right now and just let it motivate us. We’re just going to get back to it. We’re working on it and coming out with a game plan for Bristol.”
 
Brown and his AB Motorsports team will get a chance to bounce back soon at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, June 7-9, in Bristol, Tennessee. Bristol Dragway is one of just two tracks on the NHRA Mission Foods Series schedule where Brown has not yet raced to victory.

This story was originally published on June 3, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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