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Top Fuel Driver of the Decade: Antron Brown

Antron Brown led Top Fuel in championships and wins in the 2010s
31 Dec 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Feature
Antron Brown

Antron Brown won 42 races and three championships during the 2010s, a tremendous achievement that served as a true coming-out party for the former Pro Stock Motorcycle rider. Any doubt that Brown would struggle to adjust to Top Fuel dragster melted away as he cut spectacular lights and eventually moved into stellar equipment. 

The last two years of the 2010s did not treat Brown as kindly, as he brought home just one Wally over the 2018-19 seasons. His driving never faltered as he led the category in reaction time in 2018 and was finally surpassed by Rookie of the Year Austin Prock in 2019. Brown’s ability has never been determined by the tune-up in his dragster, but even the greats can only overcome so much. 

Top Fuel in the 2010s featured a litany of great drivers who danced in and out of the category, though not always by choice. Prock has already asserted himself as an incredible talent, and that’s after only one year. His .0562-second reaction time average is the best of anyone in the category over the past decade, albeit in a significantly smaller sample size. 

Racers like Shawn Langdon and Spencer Massey also demonstrated spectacular driving ability (and the former won a championship) but spent less time in the category. Langdon has a serious case to top this list anyway; he averaged a .0589 reaction time and cut 372 lights (220 fewer than Brown with a .008-second slower average). He also won a championship while racing with Alan Johnson and excelled while driving a less consistent car with Kalitta Motorsports. 

Dave Connolly, whose name also came up in the Pro Stock Driver of the Decade article, is one of the best drivers in NHRA. That’s at least in part because of his versatility. He averaged a .0637 reaction time in the limited seat time he got in Top Fuel, making his nitro career one of the great what-ifs of NHRA Drag Racing. 

Tony Schumacher and Doug Kalitta both did their fair share of winning during the 2010s, but neither came particularly close to Brown. Schumacher won 23 times and Kalitta bagged 16 Wallys while neither touched Brown when it came to reaction time average. Schumacher won a single championship while Kalitta came very close on multiple occasions. 

Steve Torrence is the best competition for Brown thanks to 36 wins and now back-to-back championships. Torrence rose to the height of excellence in 2017 just as Brown was coming off his peak and it showed in the form of eight wins for the Texan and three for the New Jersey native. Torrence never looked back, going on to win titles in 2018 and 2019 while Brown won just a single race over those two years. 

The 2020s will be a fascinating decade with the prominence of Austin Prock and the continued excellence of the Capco Contractors team. Brown dominated the beginning of the 2010s alongside Kalitta and Schumacher, but the 2020s are likely to feature new faces on top.