Antron Brown said Saturday at Madison, Ill., when he officially beat out Top Fuel teammate and friend Spencer Massey for the No. 1 qualifying position for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, "I don't want Spencer taking my lunch money."
That's AntronBrownspeak for, "I don't want Spencer Massey trumping me on the racetrack and passing me for the points lead and championship."
In the showdown between the Nos. 1 and 2 in the standings and the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers at Gateway Motorsports Park -- in the rematch of the previous week's final round at Texas Motorplex -- in an all-Don Schumacher Racing pairing -- no one stole anything from Brown and the Aaron's Dream Machine / Matco Tools Dragster.
With a 3.766-second elapsed time at 325.22 mph, Brown won the tug-of-war for the points lead that this final round turned into. Massey, who chased Brown with a 3.812, 324.05 in the Prestone/FRAM Dragster, trails by 21 points as focus shifts to this weekend's Auto-Plus Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, near Reading, Pa.
"We snuck off with that win. That was a tough battle against our teammate Spencer. That FRAM car has been tough all year. And to get a win through them is one of those incredible, hard feats," Brown said. "It's definitely very, very competitive, and these guys aren't playing anymore.
"It was a stressful day where we matched up against some great competition. Matching up against my teammate in the final was big – we’ve been back and forth in the points," he said. "It's great to have six wins, but right now they're all in the past. We need to go back to the shop and get focused on these last three races. It's just so competitive out here -- and this point race is going to go down to the last race."
Three races remain on the schedule. After the Reading event, the teams have three weeks off before the Countdown resumes at Las Vegas. The season finale is Nov. 8-11 at Pomona, Calif.
Brown pointed to the team effort that was evident Sunday in the nitro classes.
"From our guys in the shop to our guys on the road, the guys who put this car together, and our crew chiefs, and us drivers, we lean on each other and we're able to make those unbelievable things believable," Brown said.
"We're blessed to have this great team, and it starts with Don Schumacher. He orchestrated this entire organization and, when you see all four DSR cars in the finals of Funny Car and Top Fuel, that's an awesome statement."
With Jack Beckman beating Matt Hagan for the Funny Car trophy immediately before, DSR moved to within five victories of reaching the 200-victory plateau. And boss Don Schumacher reveled in this second time in 2012 that his organization fielded all four nitro-class finalists. They did it at Sonoma, Calif., during the Western Swing, as Brown defeated Massey in Top Fuel and Johnny Gray beat Hagan in Funny Car.
"We did it a year ago in Brainerd, also," Schumacher said. "It's just an incredible feat for my teams: the teams, the drivers, the people back in Brownsburg [the suburban Indianapolis headquarters]. There are about 20 guys who stay back in Brownsburg and machine our engine parts and build our chassis. That's really a salute to all of those people. It's not just the drivers. The drivers get all of the accolades. The crew chiefs get quite a bit. I'm getting more press than I care to get, but that's part of what I do out here. I love the sport, love what we're doing."
But he said it's time to recognize "all of the people who don't get the credit that. Really, they deserve from all of the hard, hard work they do put out day in and day out."
Announcer Bob Frey said the irony of the class today is that "the only ones who can beat your cars are . . . your cars."
But Schumacher laughed and said, "Those other cars, those other dragsters that were running [3.]78, 79, and 77 [namely Brandon Bernstein, Steve Torrence, Dave Grubnic, Shawn Langdon, and Doug Kalitta], they can all beat us any day, any run. We've just been fortunate and blessed with the people we've put together that they make the right calls at the right times. That's brought us to this level."
Brown was the No. 1 qualifier with a monster performance of 3.737 seconds and 326.79 mph that remained low E.T. and top speed of the meet. He advanced by beating Bruce Litton, Torrence, and Bernstein.
Massey, the No. 2 qualifier, eliminated T.J. Zizzo, Khalid al Balooshi, and Grubnic to see Brown even their final-round record against each other at three victories apiece.
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