Spencer Massey could wear out Antron Brown -- just in the Don Schumacher Racing Top Fuel pit area.
"All our crew guys even race back in the pits. We have 75 minutes and sometimes only 65 minutes in between sessions or in between each run, and when we get back to the pits, I know my guys, we're racing trying to beat everybody else out there just trying to service the race car," Massey said of his Prestone/FRAM Dragster team.
"If we can try and warm up the car before any of the other teams, that means we won as a team, being able to service the car, and usually at about 30 to 35 minutes. Not only are we racing on the racetracks, we race in the pits, as well."
So class leader Brown, who carries a 104-point edge over Massey into this weekend's Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, can't really escape Massey. They have met 10 times this season, and six of those pairings have come in final rounds. Massey won the first three such meetings, Brown the most recent three.
Overall, their personal series is tied, 5-5.
Brown's plan, he said, is to "go in there in an offensive position and just give it everything we've got, not go in there in defensive mode. We want to go in there and we want to attack it. "
He's well aware that no matter how steep the climb to the top might look for Massey, his DSR mate and rival will push himself to the maximum and give him a no-funny-business run if they line up opposite each other.
"When we race each other, there's no games going on, man, it's all business. There's no games when you're running the way we're running right now," Brown said. "When we line up, I mean, it's kind of hard, you've got seven seconds to come in when you stage and stuff like that, and my deal with Spencer is I've got to work on being quicker. I get up there and I'm trying to inch in and put the bulb on and blink the bulb on, and he'll get up in there and he's ready for business. Like he rolls it in and is like, 'Come on, let's go.' That's how Spencer is. He's no joke."
Conversely, Massey said Brown is the real deal at this point in the Countdown and to overtake him could be a nearly impossible mission.
"Antron and that entire Matco Tools team has been kicking butt, especially in the Countdown. When they go to final after final or win after win, it's hard to compete, and they did it again by showing us that they can run and that they're serious," Massey said. They set the national E.T. record. Our team was that close to doing it last year by four-thousandths of a second, and we've been close all season long. And all three of our Don Schumacher Racing cars have been bad to the bone, close to the top, 1-2-3 in points."
Then Massey said to Brown, "Antron, you were just saying how you were going to keep on the offensive side and keep it going and anything can happen. But boy, when you have over 100 points, it's going to be tough to do. But like you said, anything can happen.
"Right now, obviously my team is not going to change what we've been doing. We're going to get out there and try to get as many rounds and try and get a Wally or two before the end of the season. With only two races left, it makes everybody hungry to at least get another Wally with only two of them sitting out there," he said. "And if stuff happens to fall for guys where it changes, to where it makes it close at the Pomona race, we'll see. But right now, obviously, our goal would be stay No. 2 in points, and if it happens to be, we can try and get the No. 1 spot. But let me tell you, with Antron doing how he's been doing, it's a tough one."
Massey, alluding to "racing gods," explained what sounded like a concession to Brown.
"Well, I mean, obviously, it's not that I'm going to totally concede or say, 'You know what? It's his race or his championship to win, but man, we're 104 points out," he said. "Really, if you think about it, we'd have to win both races, which [this team] is totally capable [of doing]. This car is capable of winning the last two races of the season. But also Antron is not going to be able to go too many rounds. If he goes I believe a total of three rounds in the next two races, even with us winning it, it's still going to be his.
"I mean, obviously racing gods are racing gods. Hopefully they fall in the favor of the Prestone/FRAM car, but a lot of things are going to have to fall our way," Massey said. "But if you think back, you can look back at years ago when Tony Schumacher won the championship with his run in 2006 that was kind of the same situation. So anything can happen, but in reality, I mean, it's going to be tough."
The Fort Worth native said he has been "twiddling my thumbs" in Texas, waiting to get back to the racetrack, despite a grind of seven consecutive weeks of competition and criss-crossing the country.
"I am going to keep my same focus like we have been and try and win both races," Massey said. "If the racing gods, meaning if Antron falls out early or whatever the situation happens to me, then that's the situation. But let me tell you, it was a lot easier to win this championship a week ago before Reading, I'll tell you that."
Brown reminded that Massey beat him in the final round the first time the tour came to Las Vegas this year and said The Strip has a roller-coaster-style relationship with him ("I have like a love hate relationship with that race ").
"We're going back there again at this time of the year, where the track is going to be really good, and you're going to see some really good E.T.s," Brown said. "I don't think we're going to have the E.T.s that we're running already, because those conditions were just incredible and you're at sea level. So when we go back there, the stakes are high when we go to Vegas. That could be a turning point for like Spencer and for Tony [Schumacher] and [Shawn] Langdon, who's right there, also, where if I go out there and . . . if we mess up or something goes wrong, I mean, they can gain 60 points on us in a heartbeat.
"And if you gain 60 points, then you go into Pomona with a 40-point lead, which things can happen, and how tight the competition is right now in our class, in Top Fuel, when you looked at it I went out there, we ran a [3.]75 with an 8 at Reading. That qualified us seventh. Seventh," Brown said. "I mean, before that would have been like one of the top six runs in history or something like that, and that qualified us seventh. So that just tells you how stout this competition in our class is right now.
"So going into Vegas, it's going to be a monumental race for everybody. We've got to go in there and just keep our head down. We've got to go there and race it hard," he said.
Massey is all in.
"I don't mind Vegas. I mean, I tend to do kind of well there," he said. "I got my second win ever there with Don Prudhomme Racing, and [reached] the final round there a year ago for the fall race against Del Worsham and then winning in the spring, so I like racing there."
He went to the Texas Motorplex during his off-time and tested some of the Top Alcohol Dragsters that will be racing at Las Vegas and at the season final two weeks later at Pomona.
"They need to get their tune-up back together and get as much as they can done getting ready for the race. You know how I am -- I can't get away from these dang race cars or racetracks," Massey said. "Even in my off week I am still playing with them and going out to another racetrack. Playing with a race car, even though it's not my car, it's still relaxing."
When he and Brown get to Las Vegas, neither will be playing with a race car.
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