Antron Brown has won 58 National Hot Rod Association titles — 42 of which have come in the Top Fuel Division. He has raced and won all over the nation and has two NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Dragster championships to his credit.
But of all the places the 40-year-old Brown, a native of Columbus, N.J., has raced at during his career, none has been kinder than Gateway Motorsports Park In Madison.
Brown, who has been racing in the Top Fuel Division since 2008, has won the last four NHRA AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“This (Gateway Motorsports Park) is my second home. (Track owner) Curtis Francois and his staff here they always treat me like family. The facility with everything is has to offer, from its fantastic karting facility to the Indy Cars coming back to the NHRA, it’s really putting racing back on the map in the Midwest,’’ Brown said on a recent stop at GMSP. “We, as drivers, come out here and we know that the track is tight, it’s right and that you are really going to see some insane ET’s out here.
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“We always love to come back here because its exciting for the fans and the drivers. This is our ‘Drive for Five’ this year. That’s the game plan and that’s the goal. We know we’ve got our work cut out for us. But we’re ready for that challenge.”
That challenge begins for Brown and all of the other top NHRA drivers in the nation on Friday when the 2016 NHRA AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals begin with qualifications at Gateway Motorsports Park. Qualifying continues on Saturday with the the eliminations and final set for Sunday.
Brown, who won the series title in 2012 and again last year, increased his lead in the race for the 2016 championship last week by winning in Charlotte, NC. last week. The race at Gateway Motorsports Park is the second in the six-round 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Countdown to the Championship.
“Why do we have so much success here? For one, we know what is at stake when we come to Gateway and we are prepared. This is always the second race on the Countdown to the Championship and we know we have to be at our best,’’ Brown said. “We know there is going to be a lot of pressure because these are all great drivers we are competing against. We know we have to press hard to get the job done.”
Brown is just four races away from possibly earning his third Top Fuel world title in the last five years. Brown currently leads the series in victories with five and should he win one more race this season, it will mark the fifth time in the last six years that he’s registered six wins. Only two other Top Fuel drivers, Del Worsham (2011) and Shawn Langdon (2013) have won as many as six races in a season during that span.
Worsham looks for repeat
Del Worsham used an early win at St. Louis last year to propel him to the Funny Car world championship and will be looking to retake the Funny Car point lead this weekend at Gateway.
The DHL Toyota Camry heads to Gateway second in points having reached the semi-finals in six consecutive races. He’s just 42 points behind Ron Capps. His 2015 world championship was his first in his 25-year Funny Car career and it made him just the third driver in history to win world championships in both Funny Car and Top Fuel.
Brown, Worsham, Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock motorcycle) won titles at Gateway a year ago.
The annual NHRA Fanfest and driver autograph session kicks off the 2016 NHRA AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Ballpark Village at Busch Stadium on Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. Fans will have the chance to mingle with and get autographs from their favorite drivers who will compete Friday-Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison.
The action begins on Friday. The midway opens at 11 a.m. with the first round of qualifying beginning at 2:15 p.m. The Midway opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday with more qualifying sessions from 1 to 7:30 p.m.
On Sunday, the Midway opens at 9 a.m. with pre-race introductions set for 9 a.m. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. with the finals set for 2:40 p.m.
To purchase tickets, persons can call Gateway Motorsports Park at 618-215-8888 or by visiting www.gatewaymsp.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the speedway ticket office. Children 12 and under are admitted free.