BROWN, BECKMAN, ENDERS, KRAWIEC SAY ‘SEE YOU’ IN ST. LOUIS: Antron Brown raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the season last Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, and in the process, increased his championship points lead. Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the event—the first race for the NHRA in the St. Louis area in more than two years. Brown defeated championship rival Spencer Massey in the final round and moved 21 points ahead of the Texas driver with only three races remaining in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Brown, who battled side by side with Massey all weekend, took the victory with a final-round performance of 3.766 seconds at 325.22 mph in his Matco Tools/Aaron’s dragster, while Massey trailed with a 3.812 at 324.05 in his FRAM/Prestone dragster.
“Our team hit a grand slam here this weekend,” Brown said. “We qualified No. 1 and took it one round at a time. It was a great weekend, but it’s always a struggle. This class is very competitive, and these guys aren’t playing anymore. You have your struggles here and there, and you have to keep on overcoming them. I’m just so happy for our Aaron’s/Matco guys.”
Brown beat Bruce Litton, Steve Torrence and Brandon Bernstein in early rounds before unleashing his quickest run of the day in the final against Massey. “It was a stressful day where we matched up against some great competition,” Brown said. “Matching up against my teammate [Massey] in the final was big—we’ve been back and forth in the points. It’s great to have six wins, but right now, they’re all in the past. We need to go back to the shop and get focused on these last three races. It’s just so competitive out here, and this points race is going to go down to the last race.”
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JENKINS TRIBUTE, INTENSE RACING, MUCH MORE AT AUTO-PLUS NHRA NATIONALS: The pressure is building for NHRA Full Throttle Series drivers who are aching to return to Maple Grove Raceway for the 28th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, October 4–7, which is also the fourth race in the six-race Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA playoffs. The Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals will pay a special tribute to one of the NHRA’s most iconic names in Pro Stock—Pennsylvania native Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, who died earlier this year. A Grumpy Car Corral, Grump Parade and a Sunday Track Walk with members of the Jenkins family are planned in commemoration of his life and legacy. All Sunday ticket holders can take advantage of this free tribute Track Walk with the opportunity to walk side-by-side, interact with some of the NHRA’s most popular drivers while they remember “Grumpy”—one of drag racing’s greatest pioneers.
In celebration of Maple Grove Raceway’s 50th Anniversary, fans will be treated to numerous festivities all weekend long, including the “50 Cars for 50 Years” display featuring some of the coolest cars selected from events held at Maple Grove. The display will be located near Nitro Alley on Sunday. The top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will continue their charges during the playoffs that kicked off mid-September in Charlotte, North Carolina. Defending event champions Spencer Massey (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are pushing hard to return to the winner’s circle at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals en route to the NHRA Full Throttle world championship. As always, every ticket is a pit pass giving fans unlimited access to the sport’s biggest stars for autographs and photo opportunities. For tickets to the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, call 610-856-7200 or log on to www.maplegroveraceway.com.
BROWN TICKELED PINK TO DRIVE MATCO’S TOOLS FOR THE CAUSE DRAGSTER TO DELIVER MESSAGE, RAISE FUNDS: Breast cancer has touched everyone, and the team at Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) can be counted on that list. Linda Matranga, mother-in-law of DSR’s NHRA Top Fuel points-leading driver Antron Brown of the Matco Tools team, is a breast cancer survivor. So is Ellen Tobler, wife of DSR’s NHRA Funny Car points-leading crew chief Rahn Tobler. Those close connections to the disease will put added luster on DSR’s special-edition pink Matco Tools dragster, which Brown will drive wearing a pink firesuit and helmet at three NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events to help promote Matco’s Tools for the Cause campaign to benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.
“Wearing my pink suit and driving that pink dragster will be just like flying Matco’s red, white and blue colors. It’s great to be part of Matco and be able to help others,” Brown said. “That’s God’s way and the American way.” From October 1, 2012, through September 30, 2013, Matco Tools will donate 15% of the sale of specially marked products to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $100,000. Brown’s unique firesuit, helmet and the race team’s pink crew shirts will be on eBay.com in November, all proceeds of which will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Visit www.nhra.com for more on this story.
FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP HITS MIDWAY POINT: With half of the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoff races complete, only three events remain, and it is becoming critical for title challengers to make a move at one of the three upcoming events—the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, October 4–7 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, October 25–28 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the Auto Club NHRA Finals, November 8–11 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. At the midway point, in Top Fuel, leader and playoff top seed Antron Brown holds a 21-point edge over teammate Spencer Massey. Seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher and Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon are well within striking distance with, as history has shown, two very capable teams. In Funny Car, top seed Ron Capps holds a 30-point lead over teammate Jack Beckman, while Mike Neff is 99 points back in his Castrol Ford Mustang. The biggest mover in Funny Car has been Tim Wilkerson, who has jumped from 10th to fifth in the first three playoff events. Another top seed, Pro Stock’s Allen Johnson holds a 109-point lead over defending world champ Jason Line. Johnson has advanced to the final in all three Countdown events, winning once. Erica Enders has some momentum from her win last weekend in St. Louis, which moved her to third in the standings. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending world champ and top seed Eddie Krawiec earned his seventh victory of the season in St. Louis and increased his series lead to 33 over teammate Andrew Hines.
AUTO-PLUS NHRA NATIONALS, Maple Grove Raceway, October 4–7: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Pennsylvania to make its 21st stop of 23 events in 2012, and the fourth race of the Countdown to the Championship. The 2011 winners included Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com.
BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 26–28: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 22nd stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and the fifth race of the Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA’s playoffs. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners of the event were Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to LVMS.com.
AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, November 8–11: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its final stop of the 2012 season. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. One driver from each category will walk away a champion at the end of the day. The 2011 winners of the event were Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com. For media credentials, contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at email@example.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
ENDERS’ FIRST WIN IN THE COUNTDOWN SHOWS SHE IS A TRUE TITLE CONTENDER: GK Motorsports driver Erica Enders raced to her fourth Pro Stock victory of the season and her first Countdown playoff win Sunday at St. Louis. With the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season coming to a close, Enders sits third in the Countdown to the Championship points standings and one race win closer to a potential world title.
“It is a total team effort every week,” she said. “My team is the reason why I get to do this. They’re great. They helped me get down a tricky track when other guys were getting in pedal-fests. We were a little behind performance-wise in the final, but we made a good run, and I did my job.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
3.737: BROWN CLOCKS CAREER-BEST TIME IN ST. LOUIS: Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown earned a bunch of qualifying bonus points during the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend. Three of those points came during his Friday night blast of 3.737 seconds, which vaulted him to the No. 1 qualifying position for the event. The performance was a track record and a career-best for Brown and ranked as the third-quickest run in NHRA history.