As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to scenic Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown is ready to add another victory to his total this season.
Coming off his most recent victories at Texas Motorplex near Dallas and Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, Brown would love to get a third straight victory in front of a Maple Grove Raceway crowd that contains plenty of family and friends. The veteran drag racer grew up about 90 miles from the Pennsylvania track in Chesterfield, N.J.
Brown will be battling for his seventh victory of the season at the 28th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, Oct. 4-7 at Maple Grove Raceway. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock), and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Brown and his Matco Tools dragster team will focus on keeping the momentum going in hopes of earning an elusive first world championship title. He is 21 points in front of FRAM driver Massey in the Countdown to the Championship points standings. Seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher and Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon are also in the title mix with only three playoff races remaining.
“We’ve been going back and forth all year in the points,” Brown said. “We’ve got a slugfest to the end and need to keep on doing what we’re doing. It never gets easy.”
With such strong competition in the 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel class, also including Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, Doug Kalitta, and many others, success at Maple Grove Raceway could be the difference between competing for the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel world championship or just dreaming about what might have been.
“There are so many great cars out there right now,” Brown said. “There’s going to be some tough racing to the end. Everybody’s got their work cut out for them. It’s going to be like a crapshoot to the end.”
In Funny Car, Ron Capps is leading the way with strong performances during the Countdown in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger. He is followed by a group of strong challengers, including Mike Neff, St. Louis winner Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon, Hight, rookie Courtney Force, and 15-time world champ John Force.
Allen Johnson is trying to finish off his first world championship title in Pro Stock, and his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger has been “bad to the bone” all season, racing to three straight final rounds in the Countdown. Defending world champ Line is among his toughest challengers, along with Tree stalker Vincent Nobile, St. Louis winner Erica Enders, and past world champs Greg Anderson and Mike Edwards.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson riders Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines have been leading the charge all season, claiming 11 victories. Michael Ray recently broke their streak with a playoff win in Dallas, and Hector Arana Sr. and defending winner Arana Jr. have been close to earning a victory on their Lucas Oil Buells.
* SCHEDULE: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7.
* TICKETS: For tickets for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, call 610-856-7200 or log on to www.maplegroveraceway.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes qualifying coverage at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 6, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 7.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where some of the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 4, and eliminations begin at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 5 and continue through Oct. 7.