Story By: NHRA – EPPING, NH – Antron Brown powered to his first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier in nearly six years on Saturday, claiming the top spot at the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Funny Car’s Chad Green also qualified No. 1 at the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Saturday’s second qualifying session, as well as the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, were canceled due to weather. No points were awarded in the challenge and the bonus prize money was divided among the participating competitors.
Sunday’s eliminations were also bumped up to a 10 a.m. ET start from New England Dragway.
With a near 40-degree temperature drop from Friday, Brown, a three-time world champion, made one of only two three-second runs during Saturday’s lone qualifying session with an impressive pass of 3.729-secomds at 329.99 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Matco Tools/Toyota dragster. It is Brown’s 50th career No. 1 qualifier, but first since 2017 in Seattle, where he also won the race.
Brown, who won earlier this year in Las Vegas, has impressed in varying conditions this weekend, making a run in the 3.80s during the heat on Friday, and following it up with another strong run in considerably cooler conditions on Saturday.
“It feels really good today. What made it feel so good is just how our team was so good to adapt to all the different conditions,” Brown said. “Today, we were able to bounce back and be one of the only cars that made it down because the track got super tight. I’m super proud of my guys. It makes me feel good to see where we’re at the way we can adapt to so many different circumstances.
“Our main focus through this whole journey that we’ve been on is to constantly get better. We never really harped on qualifying. We’ve been just working on it steadily to get better and better and to pick up those bonus points. We made the right judgment calls and ended up No. 1. Do we want to qualifying No. 1 more? Heck yeah. But we have to keep working to know how we got there and not throw shots at it.”
Shawn Langdon made the only other three-second run on Saturday, qualifying second with a run of 3.738 at 327.66. He’s looking for his first win of the 2023 campaign, as is Leah Pruett, whose 3.856 from 319.37 put her third heading into Sunday’s eliminations.
Clay Millican and Pruett advanced to the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with Millican collecting the biggest share of the bonus purse after making the quickest winning run in the first round of the bonus race.
In Funny Car, Green held onto the No. 1 spot on a tricky day, with his run of 4.100 at 310.98 from Friday in his 11,000-horsepower Bond-Coat, Inc. Ford Mustang holding up. It gave Green his first career No. 1 qualifier as he continues to enjoy a strong season in the Funny Car ranks.
After a string of semifinal appearances this season and now claiming his first career No. 1 qualifier, Green, who is currently sixth in points, will aim for his first career Funny Car victory on Sunday.
“It feels pretty great, it’s pretty unexpected,” Green said. “When I woke up this morning, I never thought that our run yesterday would hold up for No. 1 today. I’m very proud of my crew, my team for navigating the track yesterday and be able to make that run to get us in this position. Tomorrow is going to be another day like today. We’ll put our heads together and see what we come up with.
“I haven’t had really No. 1 qualifier on my mind as much as I’ve had winning a race. There are some really tough teams out here, it’s really tough to be No. 1. I’m definitely happy about it and proud of my guys.”
Points leader and defending event winner Matt Hagan stayed second with his 4.123 at 309.13 from Friday as he looks for his NHRA-best fifth career win at New England Dragway. Alex Laughlin, in his first year in Funny Car, moved to third with a run of 4.190 at 289.63.
Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson advanced to the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with Capps collecting the biggest share of the bonus purse after making the quickest winning run in the first round of the bonus race.
Eliminations for the NHRA New England Nationals are set to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at New England Dragway.
EPPING, N.H. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, the seventh of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Antron Brown, 3.729 seconds, 329.99 mph vs. Bye; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.738, 327.66 vs. 13. Tony Schumacher, 9.359, 57.60; 3. Leah Pruett, 3.856, 319.37 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 6.711, 109.59; 4. Josh Hart, 3.902, 317.27 vs. 11. Brittany Force, 4.907, 149.88; 5. Dan Mercier, 4.024, 278.69 vs. 10. Justin Ashley, 4.807, 155.61; 6. Mike Salinas, 4.067, 229.39 vs. 9. Clay Millican, 4.497, 174.91; 7. Austin Prock, 4.075, 239.27 vs. 8. Steve Torrence, 4.191, 212.73.
Funny Car — 1. Chad Green, Ford Mustang, 4.100, 310.98 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Chevy Monte Carlo, 13.419, 72.42; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.123, 309.13 vs. 13. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 12.865, 77.08; 3. Alex Laughlin, Charger, 4.190, 289.63 vs. 12. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 9.042, 86.15; 4. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 4.483, 199.88 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.546, 79.50; 5. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.624, 186.74 vs. 10. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 6.816, 102.35; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.766, 170.88 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 6.623, 96.42; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 5.403, 136.26 vs. 8. J.R. Todd, Supra, 6.374, 119.51.