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03/21 2014

Antron Brown wants Four Wide win

Antron Brown wants Four Wide win

By Lee Buchanan The Independent Tribune

CONCORD — Top Fuel champ Antron Brown stopped by the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday. Brown sat down with the Independent Tribune to talk about his season so far, how badly he wants a Four-Wide title at zMax Dragway – and how much he enjoyed whipping those NASCAR boys in last year’s charity softball game.

Brown, driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, sits second in the points standings behind Doug Kalitta headed into the season’s third event, March 28-30 in Las Vegas.

Since moving to Top Fuel from Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2008, Brown has won 26 events, including the U.S. Nationals in 2011, and he was Top Fuel champion in 2012. But he hasn’t won a Four-Wide event at zMax Dragway, and he aims to change that when the NHRA returns to zMax in April.

Four-Wide has quickly become one of the crown jewels of the NHRA season, Brown said.

“There’s nowhere else you go where you’re going to line up with 40,000 horsepower,” he said. “It makes it that much more special to win. Because when you win it, it’s like a championship by itself.

“When we come here, it’s not just an NHRA nationals race,” he said. “I wish they would call it the Four-Wide All Star race, because when you win here, you’ve done something special.”

Brown has come close in the Four-Wide Nationals but hasn’t yet brought home a Wally, the trophy named for NHRA founder Wally Parks.

“I’ve been in the finals several times and fallen short,” he said. “It’s been my Achilles heel. Trust me, I’m tired of finishing second or third.”

In the run-up to the Four-Wide event last April, the athletic Brown led a team of NHRA drivers and crew members against NASCAR stars in a softball game in Kannapolis to benefit charities. Asked if the NHRA team won, Brown nearly jumped out of his chair.

“Beat ’em? We hurt ’em! I don’t even know if those boys want to come out again,” he said.

For the record, the final score that night: NHRA 19, NASCAR 5.

“I would love to do it again,” Brown said. “We had a lot of fun.”

The softball win was fun against some of his NASCAR buddies, but it’s Top Fuel titles that Brown is aiming for. The 2014 season is off to a strong start.

“We’re second in the points and just building on that right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to get a good jump out of the gate. The way our class is going in Top Fuel right now, it’s so much competition. If you start out behind, it’s gonna be really hard to catch up. We just need to maintain that until we get to the Countdown.”

At 38, Brown is intensely focused on winning races and another title in Top Fuel. Down the road, anything’s possible – as long as it involves competition and racing.

“It’s so hard to predict. There’s a lot of things I’d like to do,” he said. “Of course, down the road somewhere, with the right backing, I’d like to be a partner in a race team or a team owner. I’d like to give other people that have come up through the sport, like myself, who are fans of the sport, give them an opportunity to do something in the sport.

“I have buddies who drive NASCAR, but I’m pretty late in my career to switch,” Brown said. “But I love competition, and where competition brings me, that’s where I’d like to go.

“I may race a Funny Car a few years down the road. As long as there’s competition, and you’re running for championships, and there’s a big Wally on the line, you’ll see Antron Brown right there.”