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					046_RA1109   9/1/09      1:07 PM




      TOP FUEL’S SUPER SOPHOMORE




      Antron Brown has been the man to beat in Top Fuel throughout the “conventional” part of the
      NHRA season. Now he’s vowing to retain that status in the Countdown to 1. By Todd Veney
      All Image Marc Gewertz




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      V
              ictories, final-round appearances, round wins, or points –      crew chief who guided Schumacher to all       especially Alan Johnson – that’s who we
              by any measure, Antron Brown is the top-ranked driver of        those championships, were supposed to         all want to beat. I went up there thinking,
              2009, not just in Top Fuel but in all of NHRA Full Throttle     duel all year for another championship.       ‘I’m going to leave on him, outrun him,
      drag racing. His transition from 190mph drag bikes to 320mph            They still might. But the story of the year   annihilate him, be like ‘Big Daddy’ Don
      dragsters over the past year and a half has looked so effortless that   clearly is Brown, who somehow improved        Garlits when he had a tenth on the other
      rivals no longer even think of him as an ex-bike racer.                 on his outstanding 2008 rookie season         guy and welded him on the start line
         “This is the best year of my racing life,” Brown says. “I never      with a quantum leap forward this year. In     anyway.’ I was looking at the Tree so hard
      imagined all this, so soon. It’s incredible; it’s crazy. I was only a   countless runs and dozens of rounds of        waiting for that yellow that I thought I
      few points out of the bike championship for four years in a row         racing behind a dragster’s butterfly          saw it come on and left. Right as it was
      [1999 to 2002], but there’s never been anything like this.”             steering wheel, he’s faltered only once –     happening, I told myself, ‘Never again.’”
         Brown qualified number 1 at the season-opening Winternationals       June 14 in Englishtown, N.J., in the final        Dixon smoked the tires in the other
      in Pomona, Calif., advanced to the final there, and won the next        round of his hometown race.                   lane, so even a slow reaction time would
      event, Phoenix, to assume a points lead he’s yet to relinquish. His        “That’s the first time I ever caught       have been enough for Brown to win –
      Matco Tools team had five final-round appearances and a solid points    myself thinking about winning a race          anything but a red-light. It was his second
      lead by the time the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series hit the      before I’d won it,” Brown says. “My family    runner-up in two weeks, including a close
      halfway point, but Brown, already well ahead of perennial contenders    was there, my friends, our sponsors. The      loss to Spencer Massey in Chicago. In
      Larry Dixon and Tony Schumacher, swept the next three races.            car was there all weekend, and I let my       three finals since, he’s undefeated.
         Schumacher, who has won the last five Top Fuel titles, and           guard down in the final and red-lighted. I        “Englishtown pointed me in a different
      Dixon, the 2002-2003 champ now backed by Alan Johnson, the              did it to myself. I mean, Dixon and           direction, showed me how I need to

      46 NOVEMBER 2009
047_RA1109 
				
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Description: Victories, final-round appearances, round wins, or points - by any measure, Antron Brown is the top-ranked driver of 2009, not just in Top Fuel but in all of NHRA Full Throttle drag racing. Feeling what the car is doing in its violent burst down the 1,000- foot course, reacting instinctively and knowing when enough's enough, just as he once did on two wheels, Brown displays the versatility of a former world-class athlete, which he happens to be, having qualified for the 1997 Olympic trials in, appropriately, the 100-meter dash.
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