POMONA, Calif. -
Female and Hispanic drivers have won NHRA world championship titles, including Shirley Muldowney, Angelle Sampey, Cruz and Tony Pedregon and Hector Arana Sr., and many African-American drivers have participated in and won Full Throttle Series races over the years. If Antron Brown can have a successful finish to his incredible 2012 Top Fuel season, he will make history as the first African-American to win an NHRA pro series title, as well as the first to win a major auto racing crown in the U.S.
Brown brings a 65-point lead to the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 8-11, at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in the hot-rodding hotbed of Southern California. If he can outlast championship rivals Tony Schumacher, Spencer Massey and Shawn Langdon at that event, he will earn the title that he's worked so hard to achieve during his 15-year drag racing career.
"This is a huge dream for me and for the kids who are out there now," Brown has said. "If it helps anybody else change their dream or their story, I'm all for it. Looking at color and different stuff like that, I'm just an American. I love it. I embrace the sport, and that's where I stand with it."
Brown has had a great season, racing to six victories in 11 final round appearances and posting three No. 1 qualifying positions at the controls of his 8,000-horsepower Matco Tools dragster. After building a 104-point lead following the fourth race in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Brown hit a rough spot at the penultimate event in Las Vegas. His team posted their worst qualifying position of the season (13th) and lost in the first round and scored only 31 points in the event. Seven-time world champ Schumacher took advantage of Brown's misstep and was the top qualifier and runner-up and moved to second in the standings, cutting Brown's lead to 65. Massey is in third place, 70 points back.
Brown, who had an opportunity to win the championship title last season, says he continues to learn from setbacks and works hard to stay positive and keep moving forward.
"It is what it is, and that's drag racing," Brown said. "The bad part is that we've let these other guys get back in it, but that's okay. It's the Countdown to the Championship. We're going to hit Pomona and we're going to give it our best shot and give it all we got."
One thing is for sure, Brown will be tested at Pomona. FRAM dragster driver Massey is as hungry as ever to win his first championship title and he won the season-opening Winternationals at this track. Meanwhile, Schumacher, who has won this event four times, has a legendary history at this track, where he used last race heroics to win series titles in 2006 and 2007. Brown certainly doesn't want to become the latest victim of a magical Schumacher come-from-behind performance.
"We're going to keep on pressing," Brown said. "We're not whipped. We'll keep digging and make sure everything is working the way it's supposed to and be ready for Pomona. One thing is that the good Lord is an able guy, he never gives you anything you can't handle. Things happen for a reason and this is all part of it. We've put ourselves in a good position in case something like this happened."
No matter the outcome, Brown has a special way of keeping everything in perspective. He understands that he's come a long way from growing up in Chesterfield, N.J. and dreaming of becoming an NHRA world champion. Right now, he's in the middle of living that dream.
In Funny Car, points leader Jack Beckman and second place Ron Capps are separated by only four points at the top of the series standings. While those two drivers fight for the world championship title, high-profile rookie drivers Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria will continue their season-long battle for bragging rights. Pomona legend John Force, an eight-time winner of this event, will be trying to add to his record 134 career victories behind the wheel of his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang.
In Pro Stock, Team Mopar Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson is very close to wrapping up his first world championship title and in the two-wheel category, Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Eddie Krawiec needs only a few more points to secure his third Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship title.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful motorsports attraction on the planet. While strolling through the pits and the Midway, fans will want to check out NHRA's "Rumble in the Junction" Car Corral featuring dozens of nostalgic dragsters, race cars and hot rods on display. The Rumble in the Junction also will showcase several NHRA-exclusive Cacklefests throughout the weekend.
As part of the Nitro Generation theme of the season, NHRA is offering free general admission for kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Tickets are available online at www.NHRATIX.com or by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472).
• SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 and continue at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available online at www.NHRATIX.com or by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472).
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise 75 minutes of qualifying coverage at 10:45 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Nov. 10. On Sunday, Nov. 11, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET), and will be preceded by one hour of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET). ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will re-air eliminations at 3:30 a.m. (ET) on Wednesday, Nov. 14.