Antron Brown will leave famed Atlanta Dragway as its final Top Fuel champion, adding to his incredible legacy by winning the final Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals over three-time reigning world champ and close friend Steve Torrence.
In a must-see matchup of heavyweight powerhouses, Brown and Torrence put on a noteworthy duel as the final pair of NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors to ever go down Atlanta Dragway, with Brown pulling away in his Matco Tools dragster with a run of 3.75 seconds at 325.22 mph.
It bested Torrence’s run of 3.794 at 323.81, furthering Brown’s remarkable resume at Georgia’s House of Speed. Not only was it Brown’s fifth Top Fuel win in Atlanta, giving him the most in NHRA Top Fuel history, but he’ll also leave Atlanta with seven total victories counting the two he won in Pro Stock Motorcycle. It was a moment that clearly meant a lot for the three-time world champion and knocking off his good buddy in the final round simply made it that much more special.
“That’s Rocky Balboa right there (referencing Torrence) and I’m Apollo,” said Brown, who jumped to second in the Top Fuel points standings. “To get this win, it was truly remarkable. We just built on it every lap. Any time you can do this and get one of these (Wally trophies), it’s just so special. Atlanta has just been so special to all of us.”
It gave Brown his 68th career victory and a 7-5 record against Torrence in the final round. The team performed vastly different from qualifying when they struggled to a 4.331 at 191.76, not making it down the track during Saturday's two qualifying sessions.
But the difference on Sunday was immediate and impressive, as Brown went 3.793 at 317.19 in a scintillating first-round win against Doug Kalitta. He went 3.811 at 321.42 to beat No. 1 qualifier Billy Torrence and then slipped past Brittany Force on a holeshot in another thrilling matchup, going 3.786 at 320.51 to move into the final round.
Torrence, who won in Vegas, was the usual suspect in the final round, beating Buddy Hull, Justin Ashley and Shawn Langdon to advance to his 64th career final round and maintain his points lead. Brown and his team, led by crew chief Brian Corradi, dialed up something special when it counted, leading the entire way with his best pass of the weekend.
He was emotional in the winner’s circle, taking in a moment at the Atlanta finale he won’t soon forget.