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Tue, 17 Oct 2017, 17:28 PM

Back-to-Back Top Fuel World Champ Antron Brown Loves Make or Break Nature of NHRA Toyota
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2017 Auto Imagery, Inc.

LAS VEGAS -- Nationals

Antron Brown
Big moments are what Antron Brown lives for and the upcoming NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 26-29, certainly qualifies as one. As the penultimate race of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, there is plenty on the line and those are the situations that Brown savors.

The three-time Top Fuel world champion clinched back-to-back titles in Vegas the past two years, thriving in the pressure moments of the NHRA playoffs. This year, Brown will look to step back into the title spotlight, as he currently trails category leader Steve Torrence by 105 points heading into the second half of the Countdown to the Championship. A strong showing in his 10,000-horsepower Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster will give Brown a chance at another title heading into the finale at Pomona, which is precisely what the talented driver is after.

"Vegas can make or break you," said Brown, who has 65 career wins. "It's a pivotal race and doing well there, that's how we won the championship the last two years. It can make or break you. That's what we live for. Our whole goal every year is to race hard at every race and have a chance to win a championship. Right now, we're still in and we still have a shot. The pressure has been there since the Countdown started, but we just have to stay focused."

Torrence (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year's winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including live final eliminations coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 29. It is the 23rd of 24 races during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, and Brown will be looking for a late-season playoff spark in Vegas.

Brown won four races and went to 10 final rounds during another successful regular season, but has just missed out on that success in the Countdown to the Championship, losing close races to event winners Brittany Force and Torrence at Reading and St. Louis, respectively. It is a different story from the past two years when Brown dominated early in the playoffs, but he knows that success isn't far off, especially with a talented team led by crew chiefs Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi.

"We have to get those qualifying points and be better in qualifying," Brown said. "We tested after St Louis, and we saw some places where we make improvements and make it a little more aggressive early. We're working hard and hopefully that testing pans out for us. I enjoy all the moments we're in right now. These are the moments you talk about for years to come."

Antron Brown
Those moments have often brought out the best in Brown, who relishes these pressure situations. Tracking down Torrence will be difficult, as the standout Texan has won eight times in 2017 and shows no signs of let-up, but Brown doesn't have to look far for motivation. His son, Anson, made up a 70-point difference to win a Jr. Dragster championship in the Midwest Jr. Super Series, giving Brown further reason to believe his team still is very much alive for another world title.

"Race without thinking about it, that's what we have to emulate," said Brown, who has three career Vegas wins. "We've got to go in there and race to our fullest, and not even worry about points, just focus on that first qualifying session. The first couple races (of the Countdown) we raced like we had something to lose. We don't have anything to lose. That's where our mindset is right now."

In Funny Car, Ron Capps is trying to track down his second straight world title, putting together a 24-point lead over Robert Hight after back-to-back wins. Courtney Force is 171 points back.

Greg Anderson is after a fifth world championship in Pro Stock, holding a 15-point advantage over Bo Butner after a win in St. Louis. Reigning champ Jason Line is 30 points out after winning in Dallas.

Savoie will look to make a late run in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The reigning world champ is 146 points behind leader Eddie Krawiec. Savoie's teammate, LE Tonglet, is 107 points out of first.

The NHRA Toyota Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil, along with the eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car from Douthit Motorsports. Known for their exciting pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.

As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.

Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 1:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29.

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444 or 702-644-4444. Tickets also are available online at Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.

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