The Oct. 25-28 NHRA Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the next event on the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule and also is the next-to-last race of the year. The Don Schumacher Racing team employs three Top Fuel Dragster drivers – Antron Brown, Spencer Massey and Tony Schumacher – and they occupy the first three positions in the championship points battle.

Antron Brown has earned six national-event victories this year and is trying his best to win his first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Dragster championship. The native of Chesterfield, N.J. has tasted success in Las Vegas as winner the 2011 NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. He also was runner-up in the 2012 NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals here in April. He comes to Las Vegas not only as the NHRA points leader but also as the Top Fuel Dragster national E.T. (elapsed time) record holder (3.701 sec.).

Brown’s DSR teammate, Spencer Massey, is 104 points behind in second place. Massey also knows the way to victory lane in Las Vegas after winning the 2009 NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.

But Brown – after suffering an upset loss to Khalid alBalooshi last week in Reading, Pa. – knows he can’t count clear a place on his mantel for the 2012 championship “Wally” trophy just yet.

“You know, we go into those final races where there's still two races left but with a lot of racing to go, and in one race, like the points lead that we have can disappear,” said Brown.

“We're basically going to the last two races keeping our head down, and we want to stay on the offensive side, keep attacking. We have got to keep attacking if we want to bring this championship home. And that's the way we're looking at these last two races is that they're do or die. We've got to go in there and just keep digging and digging, and hopefully we can be there at the end and bring this championship home.”

Teammate Massey knows he has his work cut out for him if he wants to wrestle the championship from Brown’s hands.

“Obviously Antron and that entire Matco Tools team has been kicking butt, especially in the countdown,” said Massey. “When they go to final after final or win after win, it's hard to compete. They set the national E.T. record. Our team was that close to doing it last year by four thousandths of a second and we've been close all season long, and all three of our Don Schumacher Racing cars have been bad to the bone, close to the top, one, two, three in points. Anything can happen. With only two races left, it makes everybody hungry to at least get another Wally with only two of them sitting out there. But let me tell you, with Antron doing how he's been doing, it's a tough one.

“I try to go one round at a time,” Massey added. “You can try and think about, ‘boy, I need to make it to the final or I need to win this race or if I could race this guy or…’ There's so many ifs in drag racing there's no sense in even thinking about it like that.”

Brown agreed with Massey.

“When you get people that tend to look in the future, like if I could be in this final round or if I could be in this semifinal round, they're taking their focus off the task that they've got to do at that given moment, and we've learned that. That's why I think our DSR teams are as strong as they are, because Don has that philosophy that we go up there, and he says, ‘Hey, we're going to go to the next race and we're going to worry about the first qualifying round. We're not going to worry about where we're qualified at, we're going to worry about getting in first.’ That's the approach all of our teams take. We worry about every little incremental step. And I think that's why you see a lot of our teams in those final rounds and we're all running for these championships.

“We go out there and we push each other, and our crew guys do the same thing. The thing about it is they don't want to lose. We don't want to lose a race no matter who we're racing.”

“We're 104 points out,” Massey stated. “Really, if you think about it, we'd have to win both races, which is totally capable – this car is capable of winning the last two races of the season – but also Antron is not going to be able to go too many rounds. If he goes I believe a total of three rounds in the next two races, even with us winning it, it's still going to be his. A lot of things are going to have to fall our way. But if you think back, you can look back at years ago when Tony Schumacher won the championship with his run in 2006 that was kind of the same situation. So anything can happen, but in reality, I mean, it's going to be tough. It was a lot easier to win this championship a week ago before Reading, I'll tell you that. I don't mind Vegas. I mean, I tend to do kind of well there. I got my second win ever there with Don Prudhomme Racing, and obviously the final round there a year ago for the fall race against Del Worsham and then winning in the spring, so I like racing there. Obviously it's Vegas, we all have a good reason to like to go there from hanging out on The Strip to actually racing on the drag strip. It's always a fun place, and it makes it that much more special whenever you're racing for so much meaning, meaning that you're racing for the championship, for the countdown. I can't wait to get there.”

Brown, for obvious reasons, is looking forward to racing in Las Vegas – with fingers crossed.

“The thing about it is when we go to Vegas, it's like when you go there it's a real crap shoot, trust me, because I have like a love-hate relationship with that race because some years I can do really well and some years it just gets our number. This time of the year the track is going to be really good and you're going to see some really good ETs. When we go back there, the stakes are high when we go to Vegas. If we mess up, or something goes wrong, they can gain 60 points on us in a heartbeat. And if you gain 60 points, then you go into Pomona with a 40-point lead and things can happen. Going into Vegas, it's going to be a monumental race for everybody. We've got to go there and race it hard.”

The NHRA Big O Tires Nationals also will include Funny Car, Pro Stock Car, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pro Mod, Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny car and sportsman categories. Pro qualifying begins on Friday, Oct. 26.

Tickets for the Oct. 25-28 NHRA Big O Tires Nationals may be purchased by calling LVMS at (702) 644-4444, online at www.LVMS.com or at the LVMS ticket office. For more information, please call LVMS at (702) 644-4444. Follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.