The New England Nationals were marred by rain on Friday and Saturday.

Mother Nature’s presence resulted in only one qualifying session each day. The second qualifying session on Saturday was canceled because of rain.

Antron Brown made the most of his lone qualifying pass on Saturday, clocking a 3.729-second lap at 329.99 mph in his Matco Tools dragster to take the No. 1 qualifying spot in Epping, N.H.

“It feels really good,” Brown said. “What made it feel so good is how our team was so good to adapt to all the different conditions. Friday, we were No. 2 qualifier (with a 3.899-second time at 310.98 mph) and we dropped a hole early, so we missed out on being No. 1 there. We were still able to get two bonus points which adds up because we are tied for sixth (in the points standings). Then today, we were able to bounce back and be one of the few cars that made it down because the track got super tight, super good, where it was no give. We had to try and make the car give and (his crew chiefs) Brian (Corradi), Mark (Oswald) and Brad Mason, and all the Matco boys and Lucas Oil boys are really good at adapting to situations.” 

This was Brown’s 50th career No. 1 qualifying position and his 39th in Top Fuel. His other 11 came in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. The milestone was also Brown’s first No. 1 qualifying spot since the Seattle event 2017.

Brown has won three NHRA Top Fuel world championships in 2012, 2015, and 2016. Those came with Don Schumacher Racing. Since 2022, AB Motorsports has been trying to reclaim that championship glory. He finished second in the points standings a year ago to Brittany Force.



Thus, he knows getting No. 1 qualifying spots and winning races is a continual work in progress to get to the end goal – a world championship.

“Our main focus through this whole journey we have been on is constantly get better,” Brown said. “We never really harped on qualifying. We always try to qualify good, but I can’t tell you when it has been times when we have this thing on mean. We are going for No. 1. It is either going to smoke the hoops, or we are going No. 1. We are always trying to get better and better and be a top five to top three qualifier; that has been our goal, and we have been achieving that at each different race.

“We have been working on it steadily to get better and better and pick up those bonus points. We were the quickest in Q2 and the third in Q3 at the last race (in Chicago). Our main focus is to get to the top of the heap for every deal. This race here it fell in the spot where we made the right judgment calls and ended up No. 1, and we picked up five bonus points.”

Despite starting No. 1 and receiving a first-round bye on Sunday, Brown knows this sport has no guarantees.

“Qualifying No. 1 sets you up for a good spot, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to win the race,” he said. “We won three races last year, and we won a race this year. We want to qualify in the right spot to give ourselves the best chance, and we want to get better. Do we want to qualify No. 1 a lot more? Heck yeah! But we have to just keep working to know how we got there and not just throw shots at it.”

Brown is aiming for his 73rd career national event win when the action begins at 10 a.m. (ET) Sunday. He won in Epping in 2016, defeating Steve Torrence in the final round.