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Brown takes Top Fuel at Gatornationals

Antron Brown wins in Gainesville a month after a scary wreck.

Antron Brown wins in Gainesville a month after a scary wreck.

GAINESVILLE — Antron Brown still has lingering back issues after a fiery crash at last month's NHRA opener.

Celebrating victory Sunday at Gatornationals surely helped ease the pain.

A month after a harrowing wreck sent Brown sliding across the track in Pomona, Calif., with little left of his dragster, the defending class champion found his way back to the top of the field at Auto Plus Raceway.

Brown, 37, used the fastest pass of the day to edge Clay Millican in the Top Fuel final, covering 1,000 feet strip in 3.761 seconds at 318.77 mph.

"No, there were no thoughts (about Pomona)," Brown said. "What you do is you have to treat each run as its own run. … You can't think about what happened in the last run, whether it's a world-record run or you flipped upside down.

"If you don't, these cars go so fast that if you're thinking about something that you're not supposed to, you put yourself in a serious, dangerous moment and the other people that you're racing against."

It was Brown's 22nd Top Fuel win and the 200th for Don Schumacher Racing. Only John Force Racing (218) has more NHRA wins.

Just a few minutes earlier, Johnny Gray gave Schumacher Racing win No. 199 by beating Del Worsham in the Funny Car final. It was Gray's fourth career victory and first in his final season. Gray, who turns 60 Wednesday, is retiring at the end of 2013.

"It's very grueling just to come do all the races and all the traveling that's involved," Gray said. "There's a lot of other things I want to do. Anybody my age will tell you it's fun to kick a kid's (butt). … But it's time to go play with the kids and the grandkids."

Schumacher donned a red hat commemorating his 200th victory and broke down while talking about how he couldn't celebrate class titles in Top Fuel and Funny Car last November because his mother died the day of the NHRA banquet.

"I haven't had joy really since then," Schumacher said, pausing to compose himself.

Allen Johnson edged Jeg Coughlin to win the Pro Stock final. Coughlin had the faster quarter-mile time, but Johnson beat him off the line and down the track. Hector Arana Jr. won Pro Stock Motorcycle, besting his father in the semifinals and Steve Johnson in the final.

Brown takes Top Fuel at Gatornationals 03/17/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 10:35pm]

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