By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer
It had been seven races since Antron Brown was last in the winner circle in his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster. In fact, his last win came at the second Charlotte race late in the season during the Countdown playoff race.
That day, Brown started seventh and defeated a heavy list of hitters which included both John Force Racing’s Austin Prock, Brittany Force, then Clay Millican, and Davis Motorsports Justin Ashley to win the race.
So far in 2023, Brown had been winless heading into the first Four-Wide race of the season. He came close to the last race in Pomona where he lost in the semi-finals to his technical teammate Justin Ashley in E3.
While Brown is a former winner of Las Vegas Motor Speedway at The Strip by winning in 2011, 2016, and 2017, he had never won at the Four-Wide race which began in 2018. Even though Brown had not won yet at the Four-Wide Nationals in Vegas, he was close in 2022 after being eliminated in E3.
In 2023 at the Las Vegas Four-Wide, Brown qualified ninth after four rounds of qualifying with an E.T. of 3.769 at 333.00 mph which is somewhat uncharacteristic for the Top Fuel veteran.
With the No. 9 starting spot, Brown paired up with two former champions Brittany Force and Tony Schumacher. After the start-finish line, Brown and Force advanced with Brown posting a time of 3.780 at 321.65 mph. Unfortunately for Schumacher, he failed to make the next round and was eliminated.
For the second quad, Brown raced against Force, Leah Pruett, and Rob Passey. Even though Brown advanced into the finals, quad two wasn’t an easy race for Brown as he dropped a cylinder down the track. However, the cylinder didn’t stop him from moving on after going 3.769 at 312.71 mph for the final quad.
When the finals came to life in Top Fuel, you couldn’t have asked for a better outing. There were former champions Brittany Force and Steve Torrence along with former race winner Josh Hart.
As the Christmas tree went green, both Brown and Torrence had similar reaction times with Brown having a 0.053 reaction time and Torrence a 0.054. By the time the dragsters reached the finish line, the victory went to Brown who won with a 3.760 at 319.75 mph. for the 72nd time of his career and the first win of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season.
“Man, (Force) beat us in the first round by four-thou, second round by nine-thou, but we got ‘em on the third try,” Brown said. “Third times a charm. We knew we had to step it up against them because that car has been so consistent, it’s a Xerox machine; that’s why they’re the defending champs.”
“When you’re racing four-wide, everything is crazy,” Brown said. “It’s kind of a battle royal, and the final round was no exception. Every round was a tough match-up. Look at the final today – you’ve got the four-time champ in Steve; Brittany, a two-time champ; myself; and Josh Hart; it was a battle royal. To come out with that win, that was definitely a statement for our Matco Tools, Lucas Oil, Toyota, FVP, FDC, Hangsterfer’s, SiriusXM team. That was a heck of a win. I’m just super pumped, super proud.”
NHRA Camping Top Fuel Results following Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals
- Antron Brown
- Steve Torrence
- Brittany Force
- Josh Hart
- Leah Pruett
- Mike Salinas
- Rob Passey
- Shawn Langdon
- Tony Schumacher
- Doug Kalitta
- Clay Millican
- Austin Prock
- Buddy Hull
- Justin Ashley
- Krista Baldwin
NHRA Camping World Top Fuel Championship Point Standings
- Steve Torrence, 310 points
- Justin Ashley, -13
- Brittany Force, -36
- Antron Brown, -49
- Mike Salinas, -49
- Leah Pruett, -71
- Shawn Langdon, -88
- Austin Prock, -90
- Doug Kalitta, -124
- Josh Hart, -152
Up Next: The NHRA Camping World Series will take next weekend off before returning on the April 28-30 weekend for the next four-wide nationals at the Charlotte zMax Dragway.