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Tricky Track Stops Antron Brown in Second Round at NHRA Midwest Nationals

Antron Brown rolled into World Wide Technology Raceway for the NHRA Midwest Nationals as the winningest nitro-class driver at the St. Louis-area facility. All signs were pointing to another victory until Brown’s pink Matco ‘Tools for the Cause’ Top Fuel dragster hazed the tires in a second-round loss on Sunday afternoon. He did maintain his No. 5 points position, though, as the NHRA Camping World Series heads into the final three races of the Countdown to the Championship.
 
The Midwest Nationals was the debut weekend for the new ‘Tools for the Cause’ livery, which will adorn Brown’s Matco Tools/Sirius XM/Toyota/Hangsterfer’s dragster throughout October to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Since ‘Tools for the Cause’ began in 2012, Matco has donated over two million dollars to breast cancer research. Throughout October, 15% of the sales from select Tools for the Cause items sold will be donated directly to BCRF.        
 
Brown, a five-time winner at St. Louis, started his weekend on the right foot by making the third-quickest pass of the first qualifying session, a 3.714-second run, to earn one bonus point on Friday. He came out in the second session on Saturday and laid down a 3.810 E.T., the quickest pass of the session, to score another three bonus points. A 3.769-second pass followed in the third and final session. Brown’s pass in the first session held up for the No. 3 spot on the final qualifying order.
 
In a first-time pairing with Kyle Wurtzel in the first round of eliminations, Brown left the starting line first and maintained the lead through the 1,000-foot finish line. His winning 3.718 E.T. at 333.99 MPH was the quickest and fastest performance of the round. Brown then matched up with former teammate Tony Schumacher, who got the starting line advantage. Brown was quicker to the first two markers, but he started to haze the tires down-track and came up short with a 3.896 E.T. to Schumacher’s 3.808-second effort.
 
“The track just got tricky,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to keep moving forward and get ready for Dallas in two weeks. We didn’t hurt ourselves in the points but the thing about it is that Dougie (Kalitta) went out and we had an opportunity to close on him. We are going to keep working, keep doing what we do, and get ready for Dallas and these last three races and hit them as hard as we can to gain points. We’ll go back, analyze what we got, and come out swinging for the last three races.”
 
Brown, who has the most Countdown victories of any driver in the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes at 15, will continue his pursuit of his milestone 75th national event win in two weeks at the Texas NHRA FallNationals, Oct. 12-15, at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.

This story was originally published on October 2, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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