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Antron Brown Scores Milestone 75th Career Win at NHRA Route 66 Nationals

Former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer turned three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown secured his first win of the season and the 75th win of his career Sunday afternoon at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway outside Chicago. In an all-Toyota final round between two past world champions, Brown in his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster laid down a 3.838-second charge at 324.75 MPH to finish ahead of Shawn Langdon. Brown is now fifth in the points standings after six races on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series schedule.
Brown’s weekend started with tire smoke in the first qualifying session on Friday, but co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald went back to the drawing board and tuned Brown to a 3.775-second pass at 331.36 MPH to move up to the No. 6 spot. The AB Motorsports dragster lost traction again in the third session on Saturday, then charged to the fifth-quickest pass of the final session, a 3.857 E.T., to hang on to the sixth position for Sunday eliminations.

The first round of eliminations saw Brown match up with rookie Jasmine Salinas. Brown grabbed a sizable starting line advantage and kept it going to win with a 4.113-second effort, while Salinas crossed the center line behind him. Brown, who was 8-7 in prior matchups with second-round opponent Justin Ashley going into the round, added another win to his tally with his 3.891 E.T. over Ashley’s 5.081 E.T. Another starting line advantage and a consistent 3.894 E.T. at 312.28 over Steve Torrence’s 5.467 E.T. in the semifinals sent Brown to the 136th final round of his professional drag racing career, including Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Racing against fellow Toyota driver Shawn Langdon in the final round, Brown left the starting line first once more and held the lead through the 1,000-foot finish line stripe. Brown’s 3.838 E.T. at 324.75 MPH defeated Langdon’s 3.869 E.T.
“This Top Fuel field is no joke,” Brown said. “We won the Callout race and one of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenges in Las Vegas, but getting those points on the board with a win like this is important. Our team has kept our heads down and qualified well, but on race day, we’ve been overly aggressive or we haven’t been aggressive enough. This track today was tricky. We were going down the track and trying to run mid-3.80s every run. We just kept dropping holes or doing this or doing that. We had our ignition cut off on us on one run. We just stuck with it. Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, Brad Mason and all the Matco Tools/Lucas Oil boys never quit. That’s the result.”

It was Brown’s 59th Top Fuel win, joining his 16 victories in Pro Stock Motorcycle to reach the 75-win milestone. Brown also became the winningest nitro racer at Chicago with six wins, tying Jeg Coughlin Jr. for most overall at the facility.  
“Seventy-five wins is huge,” Brown said. “That’s a testament to our whole AB Motorsports organization and all of the partners that help us – Matco Tools, Lucas Oil, Hangsterfer’s, FVP Batteries, Toyota, Sirius XM, FVP and everyone else who’s been a part of this over the years.”
Brown dedicated the win to his former team owner and mentor, the late Don Schumacher, who passed away in December after a cancer battle. Schumacher, who was a Chicagoland native, was Brown’s team owner at various points in Brown’s career in both Pro Stock Motorcycle and Top Fuel. He also helped Brown achieve his dream of owning his own team, AB Motorsports.
“For Don Schumacher, our boss, our guy that got us all out here, I’m dedicating this to him and his family,” Brown said. “I got to share the winner’s circle with my old teammate Matt Hagan today, it was like one of those old school DSR double-ups; it brought a tear to my eye.”
With his win, Brown secured a spot in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge at the next race on tour, the NHRA New England Nationals, May 31-June 2, at New England Dragway.

This story was originally published on May 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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