Commentary

Antron Brown leads DSR at Atlanta

Updated: May 13, 2013, 4:46 PM ET
By John Oreovicz | ESPN.com

A six-day rain delay at the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway failed to slow down Don Schumacher Racing's dominance of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Johnny Gray (Funny Car) teamed up for DSR's fourth sweep of the NHRA's nitro categories in seven 2013 events.

DSR pilots have won five Top Fuel events and four Funny Car events this year. Tony Schumacher and Brown have claimed two Top Fuel titles apiece and rank 1-2 in the point standings, with teammate Spencer Massey fourth.

Brown was in top form at Atlanta, laying down four runs in the 3.7- to 3.8-second bracket to sweep through the four rounds of elimination. He defeated a tire-smoking Brandon Bernstein in the final with a 3.801-second, 321.35 mph pass.

"It's big to win down here at the Southern Nationals," the 2013 Top Fuel world champion said afterward. "Every team gets in a groove, and our car can run what the track will hold when we're in our groove. People probably know that if they want to take that win from us, they're going to have to step up because we're not going to leave any scraps on the table.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Gray
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsDon Schumacher Racing Funny Car driver Johnny Gray picked up his second Wally of the season Saturday at Atlanta Dragway.

"We threw some good numbers out there."

Brown has now won five times at Atlanta Dragway, including two in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

"This track's been real special to me," Brown said. "It's been around forever, and it has that special atmosphere with great fans that pump you up. You get that aura of the passion for the sport that they have. Everybody was running so strong this weekend that it was monumental for us to get the job done."

Like Brown, Gray recorded his second event win of the season. But unlike his DSR teammate, Gray has been less consistent in Funny Car action.

Since winning at the Gatornationals in March, Gray suffered a DNQ at the Charlotte 4-wide Nationals and a pair of second-round losses.

Gray took out Funny Car points leader Cruz Pedregon in the first round and never looked back. His 4.077-second, 314.17 mph run in the final edged DSR teammate Matt Hagan's 4.160/309.49.

It was the quickest Funny Car run of the day.

"We got over-center here for a couple of races and struggled pretty good," said Gray, who jumped from fifth to third in the Funny Car standings. "The car was getting really inconsistent, and the boys made the election just to back the thing way down, get way over on the soft side, and start picking their way back up. I didn't know they'd pick it up quite that quick, but they picked on it pretty good today. The thing came back real strong.

"They gave me a car good enough even I can't screw it up."

Gray and crew chief Dickie Venables thought if they could repeat their 4.14-second run in the semis, it would be enough to claim victory in the final.

"Johnny just went out there and beat us," Hagan admitted.

In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards retained a commanding points lead by notching his second win of the 2013 season.

Edwards made four runs within .017 seconds in eliminations, culminating in a best-of-day 6.595-second, 209.14 mph effort.

Edwards' 36th career win came at the expense of Johnny Gray's son Shane, who ran 6.643/208.17.

"Shane was on today," Edwards said. "He did a phenomenal job. I think that's three finals in a row for that team, so they're definitely catching fire, and they're running good.

"The competition is amazing," he added. "Pro Stock is just a great class. It's fun to be a part of, but I'll tell you what, the older I get, my nerves are getting shot. It's tough. Them guys are so good. But, man, we made a real nice run in the final and it's all good when you win."

The NHRA Mello Yello Series continues with the NHRA Kansas Nationals, May 17-19 at Heartland Park in Topeka.

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