by Mike Hagg, Baytown, TX
Lincoln Electric is a proud partner of
Don Schumacher Racing.
NHRA Top Fuel driver Antron Brown outraced Khalid alBalloshi in the final round to win the NHRA Top Fuel race on Sunday at the NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
Brown, driving his Matco Tools dragster, went the distance in 3.793 seconds at 317.72 mph. to record his second straight win and third victory of the season.
alBalooshi smoked the tires after leaving the starting line and crossed in the finish line in 4.433 seconds at 184.67 mph. The victory was also Brown’s 28th of his Top Fuel career. He also has 16 careers victories in Pro Stock motorcycle.
“We’ve just been able to execute,” Brown said. “When we have a problem we’re able to fix it from the last round and make it better for the next round. I feel like we have a class-A, true all-star team. All the guys can execute under pressure. The championship goes through the Al-Anabi teams. Any time we can beat them, it’s like hitting the jackpot.”
Brown defeated Clay Millican, Spencer Massey and Shawn Langdon on the way to the finals match-up against alBalooshi where he captured his fifth win in the last 10 Top Fuel events. Sunday’s victory was his second at Royal Purple Raceway after winning here in Top Fuel in 2008.
Brown said the winds and high humidity played a factor all day as crews from his team and other teams struggled with the setups on the dragsters.
“It was very draining this weekend here at Houston,” Brown said. “It felt like we were running a marathon out here this weekend. Instead of running like a sprint, it felt like we ran 5,000-kilometers out here. That’s what made it so tough on all the teams.”
Brown added, “We have a lot of respect for the Al-Anabi guys. “You have to beat them to contend for the championship because it goes through them. We get up for that challenge whenever we race them. Any time we beat them, it’s like hitting the jackpot. There are a lot of good teams out here, and we don’t take anybody lightly.”
alBalooshi, who won the season-opening Winter Nationals in Pomona, reached the finals by defeating Tony Schumacher, Leah Pritchard and number one qualifier Steve Torrence of Kilgore.
“It was a good day, especially winning the first round with a very close win over Tony,” alBalooshi said. “The Al-Anabi car was very good all weekend. In the final round, I made a mistake and got the car outside the groove, and it smoked the tires. I am sorry that happened. I hope we will keep running this way and even get way better in the next couple of races.”
alBalooshi added, “I feel good about how we started this season with a win and a runner up. Our team is going in the right direction now; both cars are running good numbers. I think we are in a good way right now. I appreciate the hard work from everyone on our team, and I thank Sheikh Khalid for giving me this opportunity.”
Antron Brown leaves Houston with a 37 point lead over Doug Kalitta going into the next event at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga. on May 16-18. Brown has five career wins at Atlanta.
Brown has reached the finals seven out of the last 10 races dating back to last season. He has won five of them.
It was the second time Brown has won at Royal Purple Raceway in the Top Fuel class. His last victory here was in 2008, which was his first career Top Fuel victory. He has advanced to the final round in Houston four times in seven years.
Since Brown lost in the first round in the season opener in Pomona, he has produced a 16-2 won-loss record in the last five races, where he’s won three, advanced to one final and one semi.
Brown’s victory was the 223rd for Don Schumacher Racing.