Pomona, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Antron Brown edged teammate Tony Schumacher to grab his first Top Fuel championship title Sunday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, becoming the first African-American to win a major U.S. auto racing title.
Entering the final event, Brown was leading comfortably with 67 points but lost to teammate Spencer Massey in the first round to open the door for both Schumacher and Massey.
Massey’s hopes were ended in the second round against Brandon Bernstein, and Schumacher defeated J.R. Todd, Khalid alBalooshi, and Bob Vandergriff Jr. to reach the final round.
With the championship on the line, Schumacher fell to Bernstein by .008-second, 3.762 to 3.753, to give Brown the title.
“I’m beside myself because I feel so blessed to be in this moment right now,” said Brown. “I’m glad we could bring this home for DSR. It feels incredible.
“It was liked mixed emotions. I thought about our team, and it set in that we just won. To win the championship with the way the competition has been this year in Top Fuel is incredible,” he added.
Brown, who earned six victories in 11 final rounds and was the top qualifier three times en route to his title, continues the great history of diversity in NHRA, joining pioneering champions Shirley Muldowney, Cruz and Tony Pedregon, Hector Arana Sr., and Angelle Sampey.
“If I can be an inspiration for any of the kids out there who have dreams, any Americans, that’s all I want,” said Brown, who became the 18th different driver to win a Top Fuel world championship title.
Brown started his quest for the championship on a sour note, losing to Khalid alBalooshi during their first-round match at the Charlotte event and slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the standings.
He scored consecutive wins in Dallas and St. Louis, defeating teammate Massey in the final round on each occasion. The Dallas win left the two drivers tied atop the standings, and the St. Louis victory gave Brown the points lead that he would never relinquish.
Meanwhile, Jack Beckman claimed the Funny Car world championship title when he outlasted teammate Ron Capps and took the title by two points in one of the closest points margins in the history of the category.