November 1, 2015
Antron Brown and Erica Enders won NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship titles in their respective categories Sunday at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brown claimed his second Top Fuel world championship when he advanced one round farther than rival Tony Schumacher during eliminations. Enders secured her second straight world championship crown when she won in the quarterfinals and rival Greg Anderson lost in the same round. Enders then raced to victory, her ninth of the season and fourth in a row at LVMS. Brown lost in the semifinals.
Brown, who also won the Top Fuel world championship in 2012, remains the only African-American to win a major U.S. auto racing championship title. He opened the playoffs with three consecutive wins to put his team in position to clinch the title early, with one race remaining. He nearly claimed his eighth victory of the season today, but he lost a photo-finish to veteran racer Kalitta in the semi’s.
“We were greedy. We really wanted to have the Toyota Wally (trophy) next to that big Wally, but, hey, we’ll take the big one any day,” said Brown, whose Matco Tools team pocketed $500,000 for the championship title. “I just lost a race to Doug Kalitta by five-ten-thousandths of a second. It’s probably the closest race of all year. That’s how competitive this class has gotten, and that’s what makes this so big and makes it worth it when you can go out there and win a championship like our team has.”
Meanwhile, Enders joined Angelle Sampey as the only women in NHRA history who have successfully defended a world championship title. Sampey won three consecutive Pro Stock Motorcycle crowns from 2000-2002.
Enders claimed her fourth consecutive victory at LVMS and 21st career victory by outrunning rookie Bo Butner in the final round. Enders Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro posted a 6.595 at 208.97 to finish in front of Butner’s Speed Dawg Shift Knobs Camaro, which trailed with a 6.610 at 209.33.
“My guys are so incredible,” said Enders, who earned $250,000 for the championship and another $50,000 for taking the event victory. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you get the right people around you. To do it in front of all my sponsors and family here this weekend it is incredible. To cap off a second world championship here at Vegas is just crazy.”