William Brown III was locked in on the moment, so much so he didn’t notice the gate blocking what he thought was his lane at zMAX Dragway.
It wasn't his lane. Brown was lining up in the wrong pair of lanes – the ones not in use – at the four-lane zMAX Dragway for last weekend’s ADRL Dragstock IX.
“I was on the bump Saturday morning and I was just nervous; a little uptight,” Brown said. “I started up the car, but I was just locked in and I pulled over to the right lane on the other set of lanes. I had to back up and move to the right (lane).
“(ADRL announcer) Bret Kepner started calling me 3-wide Brown.”
Brown can get a hearty chuckle out of it now, but it was a tense moment in what ended up as the quickest qualifying field in ADRL TS history.
Brown, though, quickly delivered in the clutch, much like he has all year, running a 4.268 to slip into the field at No. 14 on the eventful run.
All 16 qualifiers ran in the 4.20s or better for the first time in ADRL TS history, and Brown again rose to the occasion. While previous points leader Marco Abruzzi didn’t make the field, Brown kept his hot streak going, advancing to the semifinals before being clipped by just three feet by eventual event winner Ronnie Davis.
Still, Brown was able to jump into the points lead with the performance, which came off back-to-back finals appearances.
Now heading into the final three races of the 2012 ADRL season, Brown leads Chuck Mohn by 210 points and is loving every minute of the championship chase.
“This is just real exciting, man,” said Brown, a Chesapeake, Va. native. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from local guys and a lot of support from the guys in the ADRL.
“You think about the championship and you dream about it, and to be in the running for it become a reality, it just sends a cool sensation throughout your body. It makes you want to smile all the time.”
But it wasn’t all smiles when Brown decided to take on the gargantuan task of committing to all 10 ADRL Top Sportsman races.
The budget-minded team traveled 22 hours to Houston for the opening race of the season, but Brown lost in the first round after going red by .005.
While the loss made for some discouraging moments to start the year, Brown never lost faith.
“I set my crew down and told them to stick with it because it’s going to turn around for us and things are going to get better,” Brown explained . “We started off slow but we’re really picked it up the last couple of races, and everyone is excited about that.”
Brown’s season turned around at Virginia Motorsports, where he entered with just one round win on the year.
At the 32-car “Clash of the Titans,” as part of the U.S. Drags V, Brown advanced to the finals and then made a second straight appearance in the finals three weeks later at the Summer Drags VIII.
The solution hasn’t been earth-shattering, but rather continuous consistent performances in the low 4.20s and strong reaction times.
“We just stayed in our same routine and had faith that things would turn around,” Brown said. “I’ve been close to winning twice, but I’m destined to win one at some point.
“This class is just awesome. It’s a real good group of guys and everyone has a chance.”
Brown, a former Extreme 10.5 racer in the ADRL, decided on the full 10-race schedule in ADRL Top Sportsman because it still ended up being more convenient than racing in IHRA or NHRA divisional races.
The travel hasn’t been overwhelming for the team and now Brown appears to be getting better as the season has reached the stretch run.
He won’t change anything up with a 2-round championship lead heading into the final three races, sticking to what has worked as of late.
“The crew is excellent, I’m doing well driving the car and the car is performing well. We’re all getting things done,” Brown said. “Everything is going smooth and the machine is well-oiled right now.”
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