Antron Brown says he's inspired by NBA icon Michael Jordan
NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown says Michael Jordan’s teamwork and ability to “make everyone around him great” has been applied within his arm of Don Schumacher Racing to create a squad of all-stars.
Brown, who has won three of the last five Top Fuel championships, explained that his crew chiefs were transformative figures within the Matco Tools team, and that he’s been observing it since switching from Pro Stock Motorcycles to Top Fuel in 2008.
The 40-year-old from Chesterfield Township, NJ, said: “Someone who I always idolized while growing up was Michael Jordan. The reason being is, that no matter how good he was, he knew he was only as good as his team. What he did was make everyone around him great.
“You have to surround yourself with the right people and I’ve been very fortunate to find people who share the same desire as I have. Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald [crew chiefs] have always made people around them great. Brian took drivers who were average drivers or drivers who couldn’t win races and he won races with them no matter what.
“When I got a part of it, that’s what really made our team stand out as a whole. Brian wasn’t doing it by himself. He brought Mark along and then he got other assistant crew chiefs and myself and then the rest of our guys on our crew all came in together.
“We made something like one of those miracles happen. Miracles like where you truly get an all-star cast to get together, you make unbelievable things happen. That is what I credit out entire team success to.”
Brown scored 16 wins on PS Motorcycles but was immediately successful in Top Fuel, scoring two wins in his rookie season in the nitro machines. Over his nine years in Schumacher’s TF cars, Brown has racked up 45 victories, putting him fourth in the all-time Top Fuel winner list.
Despite this glory run of averaging five Wally trophies per season, Brown insists the team members will not be letting up its efforts.
“They will stay [at the DSR raceshop] until 6 or 7 pm or come in on the weekends to do what they need to do. That is when you know you have a driven team. They don’t worry about me working because they know I’m always in the gym working and doing my part and they do their part. Then we come together as a whole.
“We aren’t just satisfied going out there and racing. Once we get to that point where we are out there to be out there that is the time to step aside and give somebody else their shot to do what they want to do and live their dream.
“Right now we are still so passionate and driven. The part that drives us is each and every year the competition steps up and they get tougher, better stronger. That is what makes us look inside ourselves. How can we raise the bar? What we did last year isn’t going to make it happen this year. We are going to have to re-invent ourselves and come out and get better.
“Sometimes we take a step backward to get better. Like last year when we struggled at the beginning of the year because we started off with a brand new routine. We started with brand new parts and pieces and tried different things, being more aggressive in areas that we weren’t aggressive enough and had to find our window. Once we did, we were able to capitalize and grow during the year. We didn’t stay stagnant. When we got into the Countdown we had to put everything together and it worked out.
Brown said the policy of constant evolution will hold true in this coming NHRA Mello Yello season, which begins next week at Pomona. He noted that in particular the team has been spurred on by the performance of Kalitta Motorsports.
“We are going to go into 2017 with that same formula,” he said. “At the last two races we saw the Kalitta cars come out swinging hard, very hard, that is going to be a team competing for a championship and we have to battle them. We have to come back and step up to that level.
“We have been working on quite a few things to make our car better… in our clutch department and also on our chassis. We are at the infancy stage of some things but really starting to dig into them and we want to see how they are going to pan out as the year goes on. We are going to be incorporating them throughout the year to make our program better.”
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