BRAINERD, Minn. (August 19, 2023) – In the latest edition of the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge at Brainerd International Raceway, Antron Brown, Robert Hight & Erica Enders all claimed their first victories of the season in the highly competitive event within an event.
Brown drove the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster to victory on Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals when he recorded a winning 3.840 E.T. at 292.01 MPH to defeat Brittany Force in the final round of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Top Fuel Challenge. For his efforts, Brown was awarded three championship bonus points and a $10,000 prize.
“We’ve been wanting to win this race for a long, long time, but first, you’ve got to get in,” said Brown, who won his first #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR). “This was our fourth time competing in the Mission Foods race and it felt really good to get past that first round and get it done today.”
Brown and his AB Motorsports team secured a spot in the Mission Foods-backed specialty race by advancing into the semifinals at last week’s event in Topeka, Kan. The first #2Fast2Tasty elimination round featured a rematch between Brown and Justin Ashley, the Top Fuel point leader and Topeka event winner. Against one of the best leavers in the sport, Brown moved first and never trailed, taking his Matco Tools machine to the finish line stripe in 3.804 seconds at 326.56 MPH, besting Ashley who defeated Brown by just a few thousandths of a second the week prior.
“Leaving on Justin today was big for sure,” said Brown, a 72-time NHRA national event champion. “To race Justin, you’ve got to step your game up and I know what that feels like. Trust me, I don’t like getting left on. Not too many people get to leave on me. He’s done it a couple of times and it felt good to get one back today. The teachers still got some tricks up his sleeve.”
The final round of the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge featured a contest between two multi-time world champions with Brown, a three-time series champ, lining up opposite Force, a two-time Top Fuel series title holder. Once again, Brown was quick on the throttle, using a .056-second reaction time to get a head start on his competitor who lost traction early into the run.
“All these cars are just tough, tough competitors and to go into that final round against Brittany and the way their car has been running and going against Justin first round, those are two heavy hitters in the class.”
Brown will be looking to double up on Sunday at BIR, a facility where he has wins in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle. The five-time Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals event champ has already advanced to the final round three times this year, including his win from the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals. He currently occupies the No. 4 spot in the Top Fuel standings.
“The momentum is definitely building,” said Brown, who finished as the Camping World Series Top Fuel runner-up in 2022. “The Countdown is right around the corner so we’ve just got to keep going and doing what we do. And man, it feels good to get that first Mission win. Tomorrow will bring a whole different day. We want to win here tomorrow and gain some more points and gain some more momentum as we gear up for Indy. We want to try and get that No. 3 spot. Brittany is right in front of us and that’s our game plan tomorrow so we can give ourselves a better shot at this championship. I like where we’re at and where we’re headed. (Crew chiefs) Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, and all of our Matco/FVP/Lucas Oil boys have been putting the work in, and Hangsterfer’s, Toyota, Summit Racing, and all of our partners that help us out so much. I’m just getting more pumped up, and getting more in my zone.”
Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS team picked up their first Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge victory Saturday while qualifying No. 6 for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
In the first round of the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools team had a strong drag race in their semifinal rematch with Bob Tasca III from Heartland Motorsports Park. With both Hight and Tasca running 3.982 seconds, Hight would get the holeshot win with a .048 reaction time to Tasca’s .062. Hight’s speed would be 316.67 to Tasca’s 322.96.
Facing Matt Hagan in the finals, the Cornwell Tools dragster would be low on power but would take the win with a 3.988-second pass at 315.05 mph bettering Hagan who uncharacteristically only ran a 4.043 at 311.20. Along with the win, Hight will earn three championship bonus points and $10,000. The championship bonus points will be added to his total after the points reset heading into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs.
“I keep saying this Cornwell Tools Camaro is turning a corner and I really believe it has, we are getting to where we need to be. It’s responding to Jimmy. He’s only having to make little tweaks now. It’s not wholesale changes every week and changing the combination. It’s getting closer. Our early numbers are picking up which is what you need,” Hight said. “I really want to thank Mission Foods for putting this Challenge together. It makes things a little more exciting on Saturdays and it gives us some practice. I like it because in qualifying, you’re really not practicing but in this deal, you’re out there and you better be on your game.”
“I really feel like we got away with one, you don’t go up there and try to run a 3.98 and beat Matt Hagan, you’re going to get beat most of the time,” continued Hight. “I’d say that we got away with one but we’ll take it. You could call this the first win that I’ve had with Cornwell Tools so that’s a big deal. Maybe we can double up tomorrow. I’ve noticed throughout the year, everybody who seems to win the #2fast2tasty Challenge also seems to double up, so that’s our goal. We really need to go out there and get a win tomorrow.”
Hight will start race day from the No. 6 position thanks to his 3.942-second pass from Friday afternoon. He’ll see Bob Bode in the first round of eliminations.
Enders, who comes into Brainerd on a hot streak following an impressive win a week ago in Topeka, earned her first Mission victory following a holeshot win over Deric Kramer in the final round. Enders left first with a .026 light and drove to a 6.700 to turn on the win light over Kramer’s 6.696. Enders double-bulbed Kramer by lighting both the pre-stage and stage lights almost simultaneously but maintained it was an inadvertent error.
“I’m not super-stoked about the way I won because I unintentionally double-bulbed Deric,” said Enders. “That kind of overshadowed the thrill of winning. I apologized to Deric after the final because that’s not how I race. I pride myself on being an honest racer. To have my name on that [Mission] trophy is special. Coming into this year we thought we were going to do some good and we didn’t until now.”
In the opening round, Enders clocked a 6.658 for the win after current points leader Dallas Glenn red-lighted by nine-thousandths of a second. Kramer got to the final following a 6.659 to 6.642 win against low qualifier Greg Anderson.
“We obviously struggled earlier this season, but we are We are coming into our own lately,” said Enders. “Give [crew chief] Mark Ingersoll enough shots at the track and he’ll figure it out.
Enders joins Matt Hartford, Aaron Stanfield, Dallas Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., and Kramer as a Mission Challenge winner this season.
Competition at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway continues with eliminations slated to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. Television coverage of the event continues with a second qualifying show Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Eliminations will air Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on FOX Broadcasting Network.
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