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In the first round, Brown's Matco dragster lost traction but his opponent, David Grubnic, smoked his tires worse. A similar scenario happened in the second round against No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon. Brown's best time in both wins was a subpar 4.126.
"I have to give credit to my team for sticking together,” Brown said. “We were winning in the first round in Charlotte when we broke an input shaft. It's so easy to get down after something like that. We came here, and the car was throwing us fits by being overaggressive. Brian and Mark kept backing it off until they got a good handle on it in the semis."
Temperatures in the mid-90s created a slick track but Corradi and Oswald were able to dial in a combination that produced Brown's best times in the semifinals and final.
"In that final, we had to give it everything we had against the FRAM car," said Brown, who beat Countdown contenders Grubnic, Langdon and Morgan Lucas in the first three rounds. "We edged them, and it felt really good to win and to tie for the points lead. We have four races left, and it's going to be a slugfest to the end. Everybody's throwing haymakers. It's an all-out battle royal right now."
"Obviously I wanted to win but making it to the finals for the second year in a row here, that's not bad," Massey said. "Obviously my goal today was to not lose any points and get behind. We're tied for first place, so I think our goal here was accomplished."
Eliminations were run on the all-concrete dragstrip where temperatures exceeded 130 degrees and crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler earned their paychecks.
"It was a hot, greasy racetrack," said Massey, who has won four titles this year. "It was a driver's day because you had to be ready for anything and it was a tuner's day because it was such a challenge. I got to the final round on a pedal fest."
In the third round of qualifying Terry McMillen was up in smoke early and then the engine let go just before half track with a quick fire ball. Oiling the track cost him five points. Khalid al Balooshi was straight down the groove with the third quickest pass of the round, 3.136/272.94 mph.
Al Balooshi, who qualified #6, was on point to have his best event of the season, but in the second round against Brandon Bernstein his dragster lost power on the top end. Reportedly, his blower had no teeth left by the end of the run.