Truex’s girlfriend passes milestone in cancer recovery

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. enters this season with a new perspective that has little to do with what happens on the track.

Sherry Pollex, Truex’s longtime girlfriend, tweeted Monday that she had completed a round of chemotherapy as she recovers from her bout with Stage III ovarian cancer. She has a year’s worth of what Truex calls “maintenance” chemotherapy, but those sessions will not be as frequent.

“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders, obviously hers,’’ Truex said Thursday at the NASCAR Sprint Cup media tour. “It will certainly be a lot easier to be at the racetrack and not be worried about her and what’s going on.’’

Pollex had surgery Aug. 15, a week after her diagnosis. Doctors removed her appendix, spleen, ovaries, fallopian tubes and part of her stomach. Truex missed qualifying at Michigan to be with her for that surgery. He didn’t miss a race although car owner Barney Visser said he could if he needed to do so.

“There were days it sucked to be at the racetrack, especially at the end of the season when she was going through her thing, but there was never a time where I didn’t want to be there or didn’t feel that I should be there,’’ said Truex, who finished 24th in the points with five top-10 finishes in 36 starts. “Honestly, there were times last year when I felt like when Thursday came around it was time to go to the racetrack. I really enjoyed that. I needed that getaway. I needed to get to the racetrack and take out some frustration and get with the guys and be a part of the team even though it wasn’t going good. At times it was therapeutic for me to be there and be doing my thing.’’

With Pollex passing a milestone in her recovery this week, Truex admits he has a new attitude.

“We all get inspired by people at some point, but when you see somebody go through something like that and it’s the person you love more than anyone in the world it takes it to a new level,’’ he said.

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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