NASCAR: Dakoda Armstrong returns to Petty’s XFINITY Series team

Leave a comment

Richard Petty Motorsports finalized its Sprint Cup driver line-up back in October, and now, it’s done the same for its single-car outfit in the XFINITY Series.

Dakoda Armstrong will be back behind the wheel of the No. 43 Ford Mustang in 2015. Also returning is agricultural company WinField, which will support the 23-year-old from New Castle, Indiana in, fittingly, 23 races.

However, Armstrong will have a different crew chief to help him in Year Two at RPM. Frank Kerr, formerly of Sprint Cup squad Front Row Motorsports, will be replacing Philippe Lopez atop the No. 43’s pit box. That’s because Lopez has earned a promotion to operations manager for RPM.

“I’m excited to continue racing for The King,” said Armstrong in a release. “Philippe and I had a good relationship, and I feel like I learned a lot in my rookie season with the No. 43 team. I’m looking forward to continuing that growth into my second season.

“Now with ‘Frankie’ coming on board, I think we’ll be able to get our communication more in sync. We both come from an open-wheel background and he can relate the open-wheel style of driving to the stock cars.”

Armstrong picked up three Top-10s at Mid-Ohio, Richmond, and Texas in his rookie NXS campaign last year. He finished 13th in the standings and while he was largely in mid-pack throughout the season, he avoided poor finishes outside of his sole DNF at Atlanta (engine).

Still, with an average start and finish around 20th place in 2014, there’s room to improve for the young Hoosier. Having a full year of experience under his belt as well as a crew chief that’s spent time at NASCAR’s top level should help him make further progress in 2015.

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