He has not won anything in a whole four months, so Antron Brown is happy to be back in Las Vegas, getting ready to haul asphalt in the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week.
The LVMS (almost) quarter-mile has produced some of Brown’s greatest triumphs.
He has won the spring event three times, including last year. That victory helped propel the native of rural New Jersey to his second consecutive Top Fuel crown, which he clinched by advancing to the semifinals of the fall race at LVMS.
“I think what makes Vegas so viable for us is I don’t get buzzed out by all the distractions,” said the popular 41-year-old driver for the well-heeled Don Schumacher Racing team.
“I’m one of those guys who goes back to his room instead of goes out to have fun. I come here and focus on my racing. But I think what it (really) is, it’s one of the tracks that suits my team.”
Brown said conditions in Las Vegas are like a box of chocolates one hour — and another box of chocolates a couple of hours later. You’ve got to be able to adjust, and he says that’s what makes his Matco Tools Toyota team tough to beat here.
“The track will go from being really tight, to being marginal, to being slick — and then it’ll go back to being tight,” Brown said before lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab at Caesars Palace on Thursday.
“The sun comes out in the morning, and it’s hot and it’s cookin’ the track, and then it gets cool again and the track gets tight … it gives you so many different conditions through the weekend. It becomes a tuner’s race. And I think that’s something that really suits the style of the guys on my race team.”
Brown began pursuit of his third straight Top Fuel championship with 61 career victories, but has yet to add to his total. He won two rounds in the season opener at Pomona, California; lost in the second round in Phoenix; won three rounds before bowing to Tony Schumacher two weeks ago in Gainesville, Florida.
He begins Las Vegas third in points, behind teammates Leah Pritchett, who won the first two races of 2017, and Schumacher.
“I’m gonna fix that this weekend,” said Brown, the first African-American driver to win a major American auto racing championship. “I told Tony in Gainesville after he beat me that I’m going to take all those Matco tools away from all those other teams and see how well they get to the finish line.”
Matt Hagan, with two victories, leads the Funny Car standings over ageless John Force, who won in Florida, and defending Mello Yello series champion Ron Capps. Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Shane Gray are the top three in Pro Stock after three rounds.
Contact Ron Kantowski at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.
IF YOU GO
What: Round 4 of the NHRA season, featuring Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes.
Where: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When: Qualifying 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Friday; 1:20 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations at noon on Sunday.
2016 winners: Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock).
TV: Fox Sports 1. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. Saturday; Final eliminations 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: www.LVMS. com