Antron Brown (LEFT) raced to his first win of the season in Top Fuel Sunday as racing came to an end at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. Robert Hight and Jason Line were also winners in their respective categories.
Brown held off fellow Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the final round when he powered his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.793-second pass at 319.82mph. It was Brown's first win of the season in his second consecutive final round appearance. It was also his 32nd career win, with 16 wins in Top Fuel and 16 wins in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“It was an incredible day,” said Brown. “The competition in Top Fuel now, pound for pound, is like a 324 mph Pro Stock class. Even though the odds were against us, we dug down deep and believed in our Matco Tools boys. We took it one round at a time and really had to battle with these guys. Making it to the final round for the second race in a row is a real huge statement. But it's not how you start, it's how you finish especially when the Countdown gets tight.”
The win moved Brown to the top spot in the Top Fuel standings, 32 points ahead of second-place Schumacher, who continued his winless streak to eight final round appearances. Schumacher's last win came in Las Vegas in Oct. 2010. Fellow Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey sits third after his second round appearance.
In Funny Car, Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang past fellow John Force Racing teammate Mike Neff when he posted a 4.139 at 307.07 in the final round. It was Hight's first win at Firebird International Raceway and 24th win of his career.
“It's pretty exciting two weekends in a row having all-John Force Fords in the final,” said Hight. “You have to cherish that because you know that's not going to keep happening. It's tough to do. What's really cool is I got in that Traxxas (Nitro) Shootout. When they show you the rules and there's seven guaranteed in there – the first seven winners – that isn't that easy. There's a lot of good Funny Cars out here, so to get it this early, it's a little relief.”
With the win Hight moved to second in the point standings behind teammate Neff. Team owner John Force sits third in the point standings, four points behind Hight. Force fell first round to daughter Courtney Force, who went on to her first career semifinal appearance.
Defending Pro Stock champion Line held off fellow KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson to secure his first win of the season. Line drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to a 6.558 at 211.69 past Anderson to secure his 28th career win and first at Firebird International Raceway.
“This is a great start,” said Line. “I felt like I had the best car at both races, but we just didn't get the job done in Pomona. This was the first offseason we've had in a while without any tragedies, and I think it shows in how we've started off the year. All in all, it was a great day and a great weekend.”
With the win Line moved to second in the point standings, one point behind leader Anderson who made his second consecutive final round appearance of the season. Recent runner-up finisher Jeg Coughlin sits fifth in the point standings after his first round loss to Line.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will return March 8-11 for the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals presented by NapaFilters.com.
1. Antron Brown; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Spencer Massey; 8. Morgan Lucas; 9. Brandon Bernstein; 10. Khalid alBalooshi; 11. Bob Vandergriff; 12. Troy Buff; 13. Cory McClenathan; 14. Terry McMillen; 15. Mike Strasburg; 16. David Grubnic.
1. Robert Hight; 2. Mike Neff; 3. Jack Beckman; 4. Courtney Force; 5. Jeff Arend; 6. Ron Capps; 7. Todd Lesenko; 8. Johnny Gray; 9. Bob Tasca III; 10. Tony Pedregon; 11. Cruz Pedregon; 12. Matt Hagan; 13. Grant Downing; 14. Jim Head; 15. Bob Bode; 16. John Force.
1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Greg Stanfield; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Vincent Nobile; 7. Larry Morgan; 8. Mike Edwards; 9. Ronnie Humphrey; 10. Allen Johnson; 11. Kurt Johnson; 12. Warren Johnson; 13. Shane Gray; 14. Jeg Coughlin; 15. Ron Krisher; 16. Steve Kent.