From start-to-finish, Antron Brown enjoyed the best weekend of his 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season just days ago, leaving the three-time Top Fuel world champ eager to get back in action.
Luckily for the popular Brown, he won’t have to wait long as he will look to collect second career win at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park as part of this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Brown advanced to the semifinals on Sunday in Bristol, matching his best finish of 2022 in his 11,000-horsepower Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster, and he also qualified a season-best fourth.
That tells the first-year team owner that things are on the right track after some early-season struggles, and Brown, who has 68 career wins, is ready for a breakout performance in Norwalk as the 2022 season nears the halfway mark.
“It was a good race weekend (in Bristol) and we’re definitely making strides moving forward,” said Brown, who moved up to 10th in points. “That’s what we’re working hard to do is keep pushing forward, and I like the direction we’re going. I’m looking forward to getting to Norwalk, keeping our head down and getting after it. It’s going to be a hot race, but we know how to navigate those conditions. It’s going to be tricky, but they always have a great track surface in Norwalk. I believe we’ll run well, and we’ll see what we can do this weekend.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the 2021 event, and this year’s race will be broadcast on both the FOX broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1). It is the 10th of 22 races during the 2022 campaign, and Brown hitting his stride right now might be perfect timing for the perennial championship contender.
Being the team owner of AB Motorsports has introduced new challenges, but Brown continues to marvel about the work his team, led by crew chief Brian Corradi, has done, even when things get difficult. Brown knows those efforts will pay off and coming through for the first time as a team owner – at one of the finest facilities on the NHRA tour would be meaningful for the Top Fuel star.
But it won’t be easy, as Brown will have to duel with points leader Brittany Force, who has three wins this season, Bristol winner Justin Ashley, Mike Salinas, who also has three wins in 2022, four-time defending world champ and defending event winner Steve Torrence, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta, Austin Prock, Clay Millican and Leah Pruett. Still, Brown likes the path his team is headed.
“This team is pulling hard together,” Brown said. “We went some rounds (in Bristol) and the one thing about that is, when you’re going rounds, you’re always improving and the more laps you get, the better you get. We’re headed in the right direction.”
Funny Car’s Tim Wilkerson also has strong momentum to build on heading into this weekend’s race. The popular veteran advanced to the final round in Bristol before falling to defending world champ Ron Capps, but like Brown, it was also his best showing of the season, giving him confidence heading into a busy stretch of the season.
He’s currently ninth in points and will be campaigning a special 11,000-horsepower Trick Flow Specialties Ford Mustang at one of his favorite races and tracks. Getting a win would be perfect timing for Wilkerson, but the longtime standout will have hands full against a field that also includes points leader Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, who has three wins in 2022, Capps, 16-time world champ John Force, Alexis DeJoria, defending event winner Pedregon, Bob Tasca III and J.R. Todd.
“We are excited to be representing Trick Flow Specialties this weekend at Norwalk,” said Wilkerson, who has 47 career Funny Car final round appearances. “We have a great relationship with Summit Racing Equipment and Trick Flow Specialties is a great partner. This weekend will be a huge event and we will be looking to go some rounds and get back into the winner’s circle at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.”
In Pro Stock, Enders earned her second career win in Norwalk a year ago, getting past Greg Anderson in the finals. Enders had her three-race win streak snapped last weekend by teammate Aaron Stanfield in Bristol, but she’ll look to keep rolling against a field that also includes Dallas Glenn, rookie Camrie Caruso and Kyle Koretsky.
Smith won a thrilling duel with Steve Johnson in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final round a year ago in Norwalk, adding to their rivalry. He’ll look for back-to-back wins against a tough lineup also featuring Bristol winner Jerry Savoie, Angie Smith, three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, Eddie Krawiec and Joey Gladstone.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which features some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon and Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown. After nitro qualifying on Friday, fans can enjoy a spectacular fireworks display that has been the perfect capper to night qualifying over the years. The Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association will be making exhibition runs throughout the weekend as well. The race also features the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League shootout, with eight young drivers competing for the win. The final round will take place on Sunday and will be featured during the FOX broadcast.
For autograph-seeking fans, they can attend one featuring riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle at the Suzuki Display at 3 p.m. on Friday, while an autograph session featuring Toyota drivers will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Toyota Display. On Saturday, fans can also attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds.
Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park also offers some of the finest camping facilities and grounds on the tour, offering fans a great way to spend their weekend at the track, enjoy a memorable atmosphere and not miss a second of the action.
Race fans at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Norwalk. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display will include tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, June 24 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 25 at 12:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, June 26. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday, 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FOX at 3 p.m. ET Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, fans can visit www.summitmotorsportspark.com or call 419-668-5555. Children 12 and under are free in general admission with the purchase of an adult ticket. For more information about NHRA, visit www.nhra.com.
(Courtesy of NHRA Communications)