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September 7, 2016

Antron Brown

Glendora, California

SCOTT SMITH: Next up we have Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools dragster. Antron is the reigning Top Fuel world champion and is seeking his third overall crown as he is the number one seed in the Countdown. He has four wins this season, four runner-up finishes and only one first-round loss.

Antron, everybody has been kind of talking about those first-round losses. That's pretty impressive, only one first-round loss for you and your Matco team all season long. Is that going to be the key in the Countdown, is to limit those early losses?

ANTRON BROWN: Absolutely. When you get into the Countdown, in any race, for one, you need to qualify well. That's our main focus going in, is not to leave one stone unturned. We got to capitalize on those bonus points also through qualifying, then get in a good qualifying spot, in that top eight, so you can actually have lane choice. It's tough to qualify in the top eight.

We fell out of that a couple times this year. I guarantee, that's what contributed to one of our first-round losses, not being in that top eight.

The thing about it is is every point is crucial. I look at the Countdown each and every year as not just six races. There's 24 rounds up for grabs. Each round is worth 20 points. That's your maximum points. How many of those rounds can you get? That's what we focus on, is just doing one round at a time and getting as many rounds as possible.

Last year we did a great job at it. But this year is going to be a whole 'nother ball of wax where the competition has stepped up again to just an incredible level to go out there and try to make that happen like we did last year.

SCOTT SMITH: Do you even look at qualifying rounds the same way, to try to gobble up some of those little points?

ANTRON BROWN: Absolutely. Absolutely. When you look at four qualifying rounds, there's 12 points. There's 12 bonus points out there that are up for grabs. 12 points in one race, I mean, I remember before with Doug, this year at the beginning of the year, me and him were bouncing around from first to second place by just going through qualifying. Took first place back from him in qualifying, he took it back from me next round by three points.

So those points add up really big and they can make one round into a round and put you ahead of somebody where they have to win a round of racing to get around you and go ahead of you.

Those points are just crucial when you add them up for four races. There's 48 points available right there, which that's a lot of points. Actually more than 48, there's 72 points. 12 points a race times six. That's 72 points right there.

SCOTT SMITH: We just solidified the 10 cars in the field Monday, even seeing Terry and Leah battling it out for that 10th spot. From 1 to 10, this is a pretty stout group of cars all across the board. Nothing is going to be a gimme in these six races, is it?

ANTRON BROWN: Oh, absolutely not. Just to make the field, that's what took so long to get in there. You look at how like Leah and Terry, they had to battle to make the top 10. When you look down, Tony swapped spots with Brittany. He went around Brittany by winning the race.

All these spots are so close and tight, man, it's going to be a crapshoot going here for these six races for the championship. Those are the challenges we all live for. We live for these moments to go out there as a team, as a whole, to see who can be that champion at the end of the year.

That's what we've been working for. We put the hard work in with our Matco Tools Toyota, Pennzoil dragster to go out here and compete at this high level. Now just hoping all of our hard work pays off right now.

SCOTT SMITH: We'll take questions for Antron.

Q. Of the tracks that you're going to be facing over the final six races, which one do you think as a driver gives you the most challenge?
ANTRON BROWN: I think the one that gives us the most challenge with the ones that we have left is that it's always up in the air is Dallas. Dallas is the one that's always up in the air because we can have a cool track or we can have a really hot racetrack. When Dallas gets hot, it can vary from lane to lane where it can become a one-lane racetrack, and if the weather is good, it doesn't matter what lane you're in.

Dallas has always been in a challenge because of the weather.

St. Louis, we've been going there now to where the weather has been good the last couple years, we've been running low ETs throughout race day, low to mid 70s all day long because the weather is cool. Redding, that is a throw-down fest. Pomona, the weather is always great there. Vegas is always good into the fall where it gets cool weather, the sun can be out, but the wind blows a little bit but the track is good because of the dry air.

The first race at Charlotte, that racetrack can be a little tricky sometimes. If you're going on the stats of the last five years, it's been phenomenal there. People can throw low ET down, almost a world record run on Friday night, then race day has been really good where we run mid to high 70s on race day.

I think Dallas is definitely the one that is the challenging racetrack for the Countdown.

Q. I don't know if this will make you feel good or not, but today Brittany Force lost five drag races to Cup driver Kurt Busch. She told me to ask you, are you going to make sure you're safe in the basketball game this week?
ANTRON BROWN: Make sure I'm safe in the basketball game this week?

Q. Yes. Are you playing basketball this week?
ANTRON BROWN: I play basketball every Tuesday. What are you talking about? That's my workout. I play in a little pickup league. Nothing strenuous or crazy. That's what we use for working out and having fun.

Brittany was with Kurt Busch. What was she racing?

Q. They were racing some kind of a street stockcar. He just beat her on the takeoff every single time.
ANTRON BROWN: I tell you what, she's making us look bad in the drag racing world. What's wrong with my girl, with my sister?

But that's all right. Let me tell you something, Kurt is a drag race enthusiast. He loves it, too. I think it would be a little bit different story if he got in something that's 10,000 horsepower. He might think twice.

It's all good. Everything is fine. That's something I do normally, it's my routine. No big deal for me to play basketball.

Q. How confident are you personally that this is going to end up with the championship trophy?
ANTRON BROWN: I'm confident in my team. The thing about it for me is that I have no regrets each and every race that I go to race at. I put the work in every week. I work hard. My team works hard. Brian and Mark are always studying the data, breaking down different formulas, they're making different graphs to be better each and every week.

When I go into the Countdown race, I'm going in with the team, the only thing we can do is lose the championship because we have all the necessary key pieces and ingredients to win this championship, like we did last year.

When we go in, we have to go in with our same mindset and focus. I feel confident. I feel confident we can compete at the level that it takes to be there at the last race to have a chance to win this championship. I'm very confident in that.

SCOTT SMITH: Antron, as always, thank you for joining us today on the call. We will see you when the series kicks off in Charlotte next weekend.

ANTRON BROWN: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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