Another busy weekend coming up for Ryan Briscoe

Leave a comment

The balancing act begins anew this weekend for American Le Mans Series full-timer and IndyCar part-timer Ryan Briscoe.

It all starts Thursday with an Open Test for Panther Racing at Pocono Raceway in advance of Sunday’s Pocono IndyCar 400 at the “Tricky Triangle.” After the test is over, he’ll then head off to Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park, where he’ll compete for Level 5 Motorsports on Saturday in the ALMS’ Northeast Grand Prix.

As a result, Briscoe will not be able to qualify Panther’s No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet that day at Pocono and will make his fifth IndyCar start of the season from the back of the field on Sunday.

“It will be a busy weekend between racing the National Guard Chevrolet at Pocono and the Level 5 car at Lime Rock,” Briscoe said in a statement. “It’s great that Panther is giving me the opportunity to race at Pocono even though I won’t be here Saturday for practice and qualifying. Fortunately, I will be able to prepare the car for the race and it was a big bonus having the test day last week and then the Open Test on Thursday to get as much track time as possible.”

Briscoe’s most recent start with Panther at the Milwaukee Mile came while he was going back and forth from France, where he was preparing for his first 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Level 5 camp.

Team managing partner John Barnes said he wasn’t worried about having to start from the back at Pocono.

“I’m not concerned about missing qualifying and having to start in the back of the field; Pocono is a big place and we’ll have 400 miles to help Ryan work his way to the front,” he said in the same statement. “This is the first time we’ve had an extended period of time to test with him and that will pay off for us on Sunday.”

Panther collected its first Top-10 finish since April in the most recent race at Iowa Speedway, as Oriol Servia turned in a seventh-place result on the short oval.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

NHRA
Leave a comment

Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

Follow @JerryBonkowski