Closing in on title, Matt Crafton fastest in first Truck practice at Homestead

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Matt Crafton isn’t going to rest on his laurels.

In the driver’s seat to win the Camping World Truck Series championship, Crafton went right to work towards achieving that goal in the first of two Truck practices Thursday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The defending NCWTS champ and looking to make it two titles in a row, Crafton was the fastest in the first practice with a top run of 166.728 mph around the 1.5-mile facility in South Florida.

Tyler Reddick, who has been especially hot of late, continued to do so, recording the second-fastest speed of 166.359 mph.

Ryan Blaney, the only driver with a chance to catch Crafton for the Truck championship, was third-fastest at 166.241 mph, followed by Johnny Sauter (165.792) and German Quiroga Jr. (165.527).

Blaney comes into Friday’s race 26 points behind Crafton.

Sixth through 10th were Ben Kennedy (165.441), Jeb Burton (165.396), John Wes Townley (164.725), Ross Chastain (164.199) and Timothy Peters (164.154).

Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson was 11th fastest (163.865), followed by Austin Hill (162.916), Tayler Malsam (162.911), Spencer Gallagher (162.264), Daniel Hemric (161.943), Bryan Silas (161.749), Mason Mingus (161.421), Tyler Young (161.160), Joey Coulter (160.604) and Matt Tifft (160.414).

A total of only 25 trucks took to the track for practice. The other five speeds recorded were Mason Mitchell (159.011), Justin Jennings (158.270), Ray Black Jr. (157.738), Kyle Martel (156.449) and Derek White (154.048).

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Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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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.

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