ENGLISHTOWN, NJ – June 6, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Defending Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown may have a tough time topping his performance at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park from a year ago, but entering this weekend’s 47th annual NHRA Summernationals with plenty of momentum, the two-time Top Fuel world champion will give it his best effort.
A year ago, Brown claimed his first career Top Fuel victory at his home track, a victory made even more significant in that also marked his 50th career win. Since then, a world championship and six more victories have followed, including Monday’s win in Epping, making Brown a strong favorite heading to Englishtown.
Brown has been particularly hot lately in his 10,000-horsepower Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster, advancing to at least the semifinals at the past six races, moving to second in the points in the process.
“You don’t get more confident, you just have a little momentum where we’ve been going rounds,” said Brown, a two-time winner during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
“We’ve been going a lot of rounds these last four to five races where we’re starting to get into that groove. You have to have some luck go your way, and you can set yourself up for luck by the way you qualify. With that being said, you have to take it while you can get it. This sport is the most humbling sport. We keep our head down and we give it all we got every single weekend.”
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners last year at the iconic summertime event that for the first time will be televised on FOX Sports 1. It is the 10th of 24 events in 2016 and the second of four straight race weekends in the month of June.
The victory was one of Brown’s most meaningful in a memorable 2015 season that was capped off with a championship, but the team has been working just as hard since then. The Epping victory gave Brown and his team, led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, a second straight final round appearance, something he doesn’t take for granted in the star-studded Top Fuel field.
“You always want more race wins and that’s what we are striving for,” Brown said. “The competition right now is just ridiculous. It’s at an all-time high. There’s so many great teams that can come out here and set world records.
“To defend our title, we have to push ourselves to another limit. That’s what we’ve been working on, to be better than what we were last year. We just have to take it one round at a time and give it all that we’ve got each time.”
Brown’s victory in New Hampshire on Monday snapped points leader Doug Kalitta’s run of three straight wins, while other class standouts include Brittany Force, a two-time winner in 2016, Steve Torrence, who has a victory this season and fell to Brown in a close final round at the rain-delayed New England Nationals, J.R. Todd, Terry McMillen and Clay Millican.
Brown also knocked off Don Schumacher Racing teammates Shawn Langdon and Tony Schumacher on Monday, but he remains impressed with the progress the DSR Top Fuel teams, which will include a fourth car driven by Leah Pritchett in Englishtown, continue to make.
“The car responded well and did what we wanted it to,” Brown said of his performance in Epping. “We’re still having a little trouble on the last 300 feet of the track. We just want to get that better. We went one direction and made it worse (Monday), so I know Brian and Mark are going the other direction, and it’s only a matter of time before we get that. Once you see that car running 324-328 (mph) like the other dragsters, then we’ll be hitting on all eight (cylinders) going down the race track. That’s what we’re pushing and working hard towards.”
It could lead to a second straight Englishtown victory for Brown, who would gladly take that celebration in front of what will be a huge gathering of family and friends. But Brown knows he must continue to be on top of his game in all areas, including on the starting line.
“We’re still learning some different things on the car and we’re growing on it,” said Brown, who picked up his first No. 1 qualifier of the season in Epping. “The car is just showing great signs of being a phenomenal race car. All of our guys are putting in the work and we’re reaping the benefits.
“If you leave last now, the way Top Fuel is running, you’re not going to win. Look how close these final rounds have been. If Steve would have left first on me, he would have been taking home the trophy today. You have to be on your P’s and Q’s, and that puts everybody on edge.”
In Funny Car, Hagan outlasted Alexis DeJoria in the final round of last year’s event and is currently riding high in 2016 after posting consecutive wins at Atlanta and Topeka. DeJoria also has a win this season but everyone is chasing points leader Courtney Force, who won in Houston. Other Funny Car drivers to keep an eye on include two-time winner this season Tim Wilkerson, four-time event winner and 16-time champion John Force, three-time event winner Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight, Ron Capps, who has two wins this year including Monday in Epping, New England Nationals runner-up Tommy Johnson Jr. and reigning world champ Del Worsham.
In Pro Stock, Summit Racing Chevy Camaro driver Anderson sprinted past Allen Johnson in the final last year in Englishtown to earn his sixth career victory at Raceway Park. Anderson has four wins this season, including Monday in Epping, but is chasing teammate and points leader Jason Line, who has had an unbelievable start to 2016 with five wins in eight final round appearances in the all new Pro Stock class, which features electronic fuel injection, a 10,500 rev-limited, flattened hoods and shortened wheelie-bars. Competition in the door-slammer category is stiff with drivers like back-to-back world champ Erica Enders, four-time Englishtown winner Jeg Coughlin, rising star Bo Butner, 2015 Rookie of the Year Drew Skillman, veteran driver Shane Gray and tough Texan Chris McGaha.
Pro Stock Motorcycle will make its fourth appearance of the 2016 season. Last year, Louisiana alligator farmer Savoie raced to his first victory of the season and finished a career-high third in points. Three-time world champion and 2012 Summernationals winner Eddie Krawiec, who used to work at Raceway Park, currently has a grip on the Pro Stock Motorcycle points lead. His teammate, reigning world champ and two-time Englishtown winner, Andrew Hines has a win this year while others in the two-wheeled category hoping to race to the winner’s circle include three-time event winner Angelle Sampey, Gatornationals runner-up Hector Arana, two-time champ Matt Smith, veteran rider Steve Johnson, Chip Ellis, Michael Ray Jr. and rookie Melissa Surber.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will hit the track at Raceway Park for its fourth of 10 races of the season. The NHRA Summernationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, June 10 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 11, at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 12.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA SUMMERNATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 47th annual NHRA Summernationals, the 10th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, N.J. From the North, take N.J. Turnpike South to Exit 9, follow the signs to Rt. 18 South. Go six miles to the Englishtown exit. Take Rt. 527 South five miles. Make a left onto Pension Rd. Go ¼ mile, track entrance on left. From the South, take N.J. Turnpike north to Exit 8 to Route 33 east. Go eight miles to the Englishtown exit. Take Rt. 527 north. Go through Englishtown. Make a right onto Gordons Corner Rd. Go ¼ mile. Make a left onto Pension Rd. Got two miles. Track entrance is on the right.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 60 feet above sea level; Track direction is northeast to southwest
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, 2016
THURSDAY, June 9 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, June 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 11 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:30 p.m.; Round 1 of eliminations at 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 12 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 11, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, June 12, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock, Jerry Savoie, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Kenny Bernstein, 7, (4 FC, 3 TF); Joe Amato, 6, TF; Greg Anderson,6, PS; Larry Dixon, 6, TF; Don Prudhomme, 6, FC; John Force, 4, FC; Jeg Coughlin, 4,PS; Bob Glidden, 4, PS; Warren Johnson, 4, PS; John Myers, 4, PSM; Dave Schultz, 4, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.725 sec. by Antron Brown, June ’15; 329.91 mph by Massey, June ’12.
Funny Car – 3.959 sec. by Cruz Pedregon, June ’14; 321.04 mph by Del Worsham, June ’14.
Pro Stock – 6.464 sec. and 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, June ’14.
PS Motorcycle – 6.747 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, June ’14; 199.37 mph by Hector Arana Jr., June ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the ninth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Doug Kalitta, 785; 2. Antron Brown, 739; 3. Steve Torrence, 658; 4. Brittany Force, 623; 5. Tony Schumacher, 483; 6. Clay Millican, 475; 7. J.R. Todd, 473; 8. Richie Crampton, 450; 9. Shawn Langdon, 399; 10. Leah Pritchett, 360.
1. Courtney Force, 654; 2. Jack Beckman, 639; 3. Ron Capps, 632; 4. Tim Wilkerson, 608; 5. Del Worsham, 558; 6. Matt Hagan, 556; 7. Robert Hight, 545; 8. John Force, 527; 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., 503; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 483.
1. Jason Line, 1,026; 2. Greg Anderson, 937; 3. Bo Butner, 680; 4. Allen Johnson, 559; 5. Drew Skillman, 497; 6. Chris McGaha, 459; 7. Vincent Nobile, 405; 8. Alex Laughlin, 381; 9. Erica Enders, 373; 10. Jeg Coughlin, 372.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 353; 2. Andrew Hines, 233; 3. Hector Arana, 207; 4. Jerry Savoie, 204; 5. Chip Ellis, 193; 6. Angelle Sampey, 179; 7. LE Tonglet, 143; 8. Matt Smith, 124; 9. Karen Stoffer, 118; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, 117.