CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 29, 2015) – Antron Brown ran a blistering 3.749-second pass to easily win the final round and repeat as Top Fuel champion of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, while Del Worsham finished as the runner-up in Funny Car as both Toyota drivers took over their series point leads at zMAX Dragway, Sunday.
Drivers faced challenging conditions on the rebuilt track surface as rain wiped out the first two qualifying sessions on Friday and temperatures didn’t reach above 57 degrees on the weekend. Yet, Brown topped all three of his quads in the unique four-wide format.
“It wasn’t easy, but we kept working to get better and in the end, it was our day,” said Brown. “That final round was remarkable. I can’t say enough about (crew chiefs) Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi and the entire Matco Tools/Army Toyota team. They did an incredible job. There’s no hiding that we’ve been struggling a little bit early in the season. We’re just working hard and going one race at a time.”
Richie Crampton also advanced to the Top Fuel final today after winning his second round with a 3.741-second pass to gain lane choice for the final. Unfortunately, the second-year Top Fuel driver smoked the tires early and placed third. Shawn Langdon, who entered the race as the series point leader, struggled this weekend and was eliminated in the opening round.
Worsham was outstanding throughout the day with his DHL Camry putting down runs of 4.04, 4.06 and 4.01 in his three passes, falling just short of his first victory of the season. It’s the third time in the last six races that Worsham advanced to the finals and the second time this season.
Chad Head also advanced to the Funny Car finals – the second time he’s reached the finals in three Four-Wide races.
“We might have made a bad call in the final, but (Jack) Beckman and Worsham would have been tough to beat,” said Head. “ It was a good day. It was a lot of fun racing with Del in every quad today. My dad (crew chief Jim Head) and the entire team did an outstanding job. There’s something about this crazy race that works for us – and to do it on live TV is all the better for everyone at Head Racing, Toyota and Red Line Oil. A big thank you to Speedway Motorsports for making the investment for a new surface here. It’s really fast and I’m glad to see it paid off with a great crowd.”
Cruz Pedregon advanced to the second round, while Alexis DeJoria and Tony Pedregon were eliminated in their opening runs to round out the Camry entries.
After a weekend off, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads across country to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 10-12.
015 Toyota NHRA Winners (2):
2015 Toyota Number One Qualifiers (3):
– Antron Brown’s victory is the 48th of his Mello Yello Series career and his 32nd in Top Fuel competition. He currently sits seventh all-time in Top Fuel wins.
– Antron Brown is the only Top Fuel driver to advance to the semi-finals or beyond in each of the season’s first four races. With today’s win, he took over the Top Fuel point lead, holding a 26-point advantage over second-place Tony Schumacher.
– While finishing as runner-up today, Del Worsham has now advanced to two finals and a semi-final this season, taking him into the Funny Car point lead, two points ahead of second-place Matt Hagan.
– Today marked Chad Head’s third career final round appearance, two of those coming here in Charlotte at the Four-Wide Nationals.
– Richie Crampton has now won at least one round in each of the season’s first four races by virtue of advancing to the finals today. It is his third final round appearance after previously winning at the Toyota Summernationals in Englishtown and at the U.S. Nationals as a rookie last season.
– After four races, Toyota drivers currently lead both NHRA Nitro point standings and six of the eight full-time Toyota NHRA drivers currently rank in the top-10 in their respective category. Antron Brown (first), Shawn Langdon (third) and Richie Crampton (sixth) all are in the top-10 in the Top Fuel standings, while Del Worsham (first), Cruz Pedregon (eighth) and Alexis DeJoria (tenth) are in the top 10 in Funny Car. Chad Head currently sits 11th in Funny Cars, just five behind DeJoria.
Antron Brown, Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “It wasn’t easy, but we kept working to get better and in the end, it was our day. That final round was remarkable. I can’t say enough about (crew chiefs) Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi and the entire Matco Tools/Army Toyota team. They did an incredible job. There’s no hiding that we’ve been struggling a little bit early in the season. We’re just working hard and going one race at a time. To get up there with (Shawn) Langdon, Tony (Schumacher) and Spencer (Massey) with a win and qualify for the Traxxas Shootout is a big as well. It’s nice to have the point lead, but it doesn’t count out until we reach Pomona at the end of the season. It’s still early and we need to just focus on getting better each race.”
Alexis DeJoria, Patron XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car: “The Four-Wide started off pretty crazy. We only had two qualifying sessions due to rain, so we didn’t get a chance at each lane, and then during the two runs we did make, we couldn’t get the car down the track. Today we were in lane one, and in qualifying we were in lanes two and three so we pretty much just tried to take a good guess at it every time we went up there. Unfortunately, we smoked the tires right at the hit. This just wasn’t our race, but we’re really looking forward to Vegas. That’s a great track for us. We’ve done well there in the past.“
Richie Crampton, GEICO/Lucas Oil Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “It was a good weekend. We were pleased to make the finals. We learned a lot here last year in my first time in the Four-Wides. This year, I was much calmer with the staging procedure. Getting only two runs in qualifying hurt us, we would have liked to have all four, but it was the same for everyone. To have no first-round losses is a huge shot in the arm for this team. We’re already starting to look a little bit at the points and to walk away with this many points from the Four-Wides speaks volumes about this team. It’s growing into a fantastic season for the Lucas Oil/Toyota team.”
Cruz Pedregon, Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry Funny Car: “We really thought a 3.9 was out there all day. The first run, the staging situation set us back a little bit. We got everything put back together and we went up there and felt confident, but the cam broke and that was it. We’re really excited to go to Las Vegas.”
Shawn Langdon, Knuckle Sandwich/AJPE Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “It was a tough weekend for the Knuckle Sandwich/AJPE Toyota. We smoked the tires all three runs, and losing the Friday sessions didn’t really give us much chance to catch back up with the tune up. We had good air this weekend, and I think that was the problem. We made a little bit too much power – sometimes you just have weekends like this. We just have to put it behind us and move on to Las Vegas, and we didn’t get hurt too badly in points. We’ll take this Toyota to Las Vegas, regroup and get back to what we’ve been doing before this weekend – going rounds.”
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