Antron Brown midseason recap
ANTRON BROWN 2008 NHRA MIDSEASON RECAP BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 4, 2008) -- Four wheels or two, no problem for Antron Brown. After a decade as one of the elite riders in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Brown was tabbed to drive the David ...
ANTRON BROWN 2008 NHRA MIDSEASON RECAP
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 4, 2008) -- Four wheels or two, no problem for Antron Brown. After a decade as one of the elite riders in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Brown was tabbed to drive the David Powers-owned Matco Tools dragster. Making an unprecedented move, Brown earned the pole at the 2008 season-opener at Pomona, Calif. and won in just his fourth Top Fuel start by edging two-time series champion Larry Dixon in the final round at Houston Raceway Park on March 30. Brown didn't look back, advancing to three consecutive final rounds where the Matco Tools driver earned the trip to the winner's circle twice. After 12 of 24 races on the 2008 NHRA racing schedule, Brown finds himself trailing only five-time champion Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel standings. In this Q&A, the former college track star discusses his move to Top Fuel, what it's like working with his crew chief, Lee Beard, and teammate, Hot Rod Fuller, and the second half of the '08 NHRA racing season.
Q: You've made the transition from Pro Stock Motorcycle to Top Fuel appear seamless. Has it been that easy?
BROWN: No, it hasn't been that easy. What made things so smooth was the great chemistry our Matco team has. Starting at the top with Lee Beard and all my team, the way we jelled, made the transition very smooth. We took things one step at a time and tried to minimize common rookie mistakes. I didn't have to learn to race, I just had to learn to drive the car and that helped make us more competitive early on.
Q: What's been your biggest challenge in driving the Matco Tools dragster?
BROWN: I would say getting used to the rate of acceleration. There's nothing that can compare you to the rate of acceleration in a Top Fuel car. Even though I went to Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School and drove an alcohol car, it's still a second slower. The hardest part is getting in the car and trying to slow everything down. When the car goes out of the groove or drops a cylinder, you need to be able to react quickly and not think about it.
Q: How have Lee Beard and Rod Fuller helped with your progression in Top Fuel?
BROWN: Lee Beard has been a tremendous help. He's driven cars and been a successful crew chief for more than 30 years. He's a great coach and I think he's one of the best tuners in the business. Working with Hot Rod (Fuller) has been instrumental because he's been driving the Top Fuel car for four years now and he's had a lot of success. When I ask questions, it's still fresh in his mind where other drivers that have been driving longer can't remember way back to when they were a rookie. Both Lee and Hot Rod have given me invaluable information that I can use to be a better driver. Plus the way we work with Rob Flynn, Hot Rod's crew chief, our entire team works so well together. We have an awesome group here at DPM.
Q: Are you surprised that you're ranked second in the Top Fuel standings after 12 races?
BROWN: That's a tough question. I wouldn't say I'm surprised because of the team we have assembled. I figured we'd be in the top five with Lee and my guys, but after working with them during the off season, it's really not a surprise. We have a lot of talent and the success shows from their talent and hard work. They give me the confidence to win races and be successful. I really feel we have the chance to win each Sunday.
Q: Can you compete for the Top Fuel championship this year?
BROWN: I think we're very capable of competing for the championship and we've shown that. When the Countdown (to the Championship) starts, I think you're going to see a lot of teams really gunning for it whereas we've been in test-mode leading up to the Countdown. I think that we can compete with the U.S. Army car. Between them, the Caterpillar car and our Matco car, I think those are the top three cars right now. We just have to keep working hard and have some luck fall our way, and to create luck, you have to perform well to get some of that luck. I think we have a great shot to compete for the championship this season.
Q: You and your teammate are currently ranked second and fourth in the Top Fuel standings. Talk about the two David Powers Motorsports cars.
BROWN: I think that our two-car team is the team to beat. I think that we feed off of each other and we're going to give the other teams some havoc. If you look over the first half of this season, I think both of our cars have been getting stronger. Hot Rod's car is running really well right now. We want to peak during the Countdown and hopefully that's where both of these DPM cars are the strongest.
Q: What are your thoughts on the new 1,000-foot rule?
BROWN: We support NHRA's decision. They're working to come up with the best rules to make our classes safer. Honestly, I can't wait until we go back to racing a quarter mile. What makes our nitro classes unique is running 320-330 mph, but until they find out a way to make things safer, we support the decision, but we want to be racing a quarter mile.