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Antron Brown Starts 2024 NHRA Season with Pep Boys All-Star Callout Win, Semifinal Finish at Gatornationals

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season got off to a strong start for Antron Brown, driver of the 45th anniversary Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster. Racing at the NHRA Gatornationals, Brown won the $80,000-to-win Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout specialty race on Saturday before reaching the Gatornationals semifinals Sunday afternoon at Gainesville Raceway.
 
Brown and his AB Motorsports team qualified for the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout based on their 2023 performance. He knocked out three fellow past world champions – Shawn Langdon, Steve Torrence, and Brittany Force – to win the special race within a race. Brown’s 3.709-second effort at 332.43 MPH in the Callout final against Force moved him from No. 14 to No. 4 on the final qualifying order.
 
Brown’s winning ways continued Sunday morning in the first round of eliminations when opponent Tripp Tatum went red, while Brown raced to a 3.730-second pass at 333.00 MPH to earn lane choice over Josh Hart in the second round. Brown and Hart left the line with nearly identical reaction times before Hart started to lose traction. Brown matched his first-round performance with a 3.730 E.T. at 332.84 MPH to finish ahead of Hart’s 3.866 E.T. In a semifinal rematch of the Callout first round, Brown drove into tire smoke next to Shawn Langdon’s winning 3.702-second pass.
 
“The main thing is that we came here and we just went to work,” Brown said. “Our guys were resilient. They just never stopped, so hats off to them. Representing Matco Tools, we come out to the Gatornationals, one of the most prestigious races, and win the Pep Boys Callout and qualify No. 4 in a stacked field and make it down to the final four on race day. You see all the positives. We’re just building and growing on everything that we’re doing, and we’re working to get better and better and better.”
 
Brown reiterated the pride he has in his AB Motorsports team, which is embarking on its third season in Top Fuel competition. That includes the team’s partners like Matco Tools, the tool brand that started its 17th season with the three-time Top Fuel world champion by debuting a special Matco Tools ‘45th anniversary’ livery in Gainesville.
 
“I love where we’re at right now,” said Brown, who made his NHRA debut at the 1998 Gatornationals in Pro Stock Motorcycle. “We have some momentum building up. The team is incredible right now, just seeing the synergy of all the guys working together and everybody pulling together. It was great seeing our Matco distributors and all the Hangsterfer’s folks that came out, along with our partners at FVP, Summit Racing, and Lucas Oil. Toyota was here, and to be in a semifinal round with all Toyota cars, that tells you how strong the team is.”
 
Brown, who leaves the Gatornationals fourth in the points standings, will compete next at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, March 22-24, at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif.
 

This story was originally published on March 11, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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