NASCAR: Front Row expands to three full-time cars, adds Cole Whitt

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Cole Whitt’s NASCAR career has taken him from the Red Bull driver ladder to Swan, then BK Racing last year and now to Front Row Motorsports for 2015.

Whitt, who’s still only 23 despite the career odyssey, will enter his second full-time season in FRM’s third full-time entry, the No. 35 Ford, alongside David Ragan and David Gilliland.

It’s a good resolution after a misplaced tweet about Whitt’s 2015 plans earlier this offseason by Anthony Marlowe, who later apologized about the situation in an exclusive interview with my MotorSportsTalk colleague Jerry Bonkowski.

Sponsorship for Whitt will come from Speed Stick for 10 races, including the season-opening Daytona 500. Randy Cox will also join the Front Row team to continue his relationship with Whitt as crew chief.

“I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity to go racing with Front Row Motorsports and continue my relationship with Speed Stick,” Whitt said.

“Bob Jenkins is a smart businessman and has grown his team the right way over the years, and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that growth. The 2014 season was great for me as a driver. We had some important personal victories and some areas where we’ll want to improve.”

The No. 35 ran selected rounds of the 2014 Sprint Cup schedule with several different drivers, but struggled to find footing after failing to qualify in several of the opening races.

Whitt, too, endured a trying year as Swan Racing went under, and his entry was fused into BK Racing for the balance of the season. He started all 36 races, and posted a best finish of 15th in the fall Talladega race with two other top-20 finishes. He ended 31st in the points standings.

Ideally, the race-winning FRM squad – traditionally a strong performer at the restrictor-plate races where Ragan has won before – should propel Whitt a bit further forward in 2015.

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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