CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Antron Brown won the first Top Fuel final between black racers in NHRA history Sunday, beating J.R. Todd in the playoff-opening Carolina Nationals.
Brown raced to his fifth victory of the season, 36th overall in Top Fuel, and took over the points lead in his bid for a second season championship.
Brown left the starting line first at zMAX Dragway and sped to 3.832-second run at 311.56 mph. Todd trailed with a 4.063 at 286.32.
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”It’s pretty awesome when you look at that,” Brown said. ”J.R. has been racing longer in Top Fuel than I have. You never think about things like that. We’ve always talked about (racing each other) it in the final one day. It was a great race. It just shows you what this NHRA sport is about.
”When I was a kid I got to come to this sport and was able to see guys like Big Daddy (Don Garlits) and Kenny Bernstein. It gave me that ray of hope because I could see what they’re doing because of the access this sport offers. To be here racing in this sport so long, it is just a dream.”
In 2006, Todd became the first black driver to win a race in the Mello Yello Series. In 2012, Brown became the first black driver to win a season title in a major U.S. auto racing series.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders raced to her third consecutive victory, seventh of the season and 19th overall to pass Shirley Muldowney on NHRA’s career victory list. Enders also tied Angelle Sampey’s record for victories by a female racer in a season.
”This is pretty incredible. It’s pretty surreal,” Enders said. ”I feel like I’m in a dream. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a great group of guys. We have fun racing together. When I get in that car and close the door, there is not one single doubt that the car is prepared as well as it can be. It’s just up to me to drive it right.”
Enders beat Vincent Noble with a 6.581 at 210.97 in a Chevy Camaro.
Del Worsham won in Funny Car, and Andrew Hines topped the Pro Stock Motorcycle field in the first of six playoff races in the Countdown to the Championship.
Worsham raced to his first victory of the season and 27th overall, topping Tommy Johnson Jr. with a 4.086 at 307.16 in a Toyota Camry. Hines beat Matt Smith with a 6.880 at 195.11 on a Harley-Davidson for his 40th career victory.