Story By: ALLISON MCCORMICK / AB MOTORSPORTS – POMONA, CA – The season-opening NHRA Winternationals marked Antron Brown’s inaugural event as an NHRA team owner, and he and his AB Motorsports team are pleased with the weekend’s results.
Brown qualified his Matco Tools/Lucas Oil/Toyota Top Fuel dragster tenth out of a competitive 17-car field to draw former teammate Leah Pruett as his first opponent of the year. Brown and Pruett were the first pair of racers to hit the track on Sunday morning and delivered an exciting side-by-side race in the opening session. The three-time Top Fuel world champ snagged the holeshot advantage and took his 11,000-horsepower machine on its quickest pass of the weekend (3.724 seconds) to defeat Pruett’s 3.748-second effort and advance to round two.
In the quarterfinals, Brown faced friend and technical-alliance partner, Justin Ashley. Regarded as two of the best leavers in the sport, Brown and Ashley ripped off identical reaction times, but Ashley quickly started pulling ahead, clocking low E.T. of the session for the win, and ending Brown’s day after round two.
“We’re very happy that we came out and performed well this weekend at Pomona,” said Brown, a 68-time national event winner. “We were looking to qualify a little bit better than No. 10, but we’ll work on that next weekend. Pomona is in the books. We had a tough second-round match-up with Justin Ashley and Mike Green and that group, and they dropped low E.T. on us. Our hats off to them. Now it’s time for us to go back and great ready for Phoenix and our first time back at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in two years.
“We got after it on race day today. I’m really proud of this entire Matco Tools/Lucas Oil/Toyota team. Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, Brad Mason, and all the boys on this team. These guys have all worked so hard to get all of these trailers, race cars, parts and pieces together for the start of the season. It’s been non-stop at the AB Motorsports shop since January 3rd. We tested well and made strides, and we’re growing and learning, and I love the path that we’re on. We have a really competitive hot rod and we’re only going to get better. I’m excited and this team is really looking forward to Phoenix. We want to come out strong and have a good showing. We want to qualify well and get ourselves in that Pep Boys Call Out Challenge at Gainesville. Phoenix is the last race to earn points for that and we want to have fun, like always, and throw down. We’ll have a big outing of Matco Tools guests and we want to put on a good show for them.”
Brown and the AB Motorsports team heads to Chandler, Ariz. near Phoenix next for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Feb. 25-27, where Brown returns as a three-time event champion.