Photo courtesy Austin Prock official Facebook page

NHRA: Austin Prock joins John Force Racing lineup in Top Fuel dragster

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Rather than wait until some point later in the season like it originally planned, John Force Racing has moved up its timeline to add a new driver and car to its lineup.

23-year-old Austin Prock, who was originally expected to make his NHRA debut in a Funny Car for JFR, will now get his first start for the organization driving a 11,000-horsepower, 330-plus mph Top Fuel dragster in this weekend’s season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

Son of Jimmy Prock, crew chief for JFR’s Robert Hight Funny Car, Austin Prock will join JFR’s other Top Fuel driver, 2017 champion Brittany Force, daughter of team owner John Force.

That means for the first time in team history, JFR will have two Top Fuel dragsters alongside the two Funny Cars of 16-time champ John Force and two-time champ Hight.

From a numeric standpoint, Prock essentially replaces Courtney Force in the JFR lineup. Courtney Force stepped away from the sport two weeks ago after seven seasons as a Funny Car driver.

Prock’s dragster will be sponsored by Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist in a deal that originated when legendary drag racer Don “Snake” Prudhomme introduced John Force to Montana Brand owner Frank Tiegs.

“This all came together rather quickly,” John Force said Wednesday. “Who would have thought after all these years of racing against Prudhomme, all these years of being in the other lane, that we’d be working together on the same team?”

Added Prudhomme, “It’s an honor to be involved with John Force Racing. John and I have been friends for many years. I had an opportunity to help bring in a sponsorship for Austin and I was happy to do it.”

Austin Prock will have former John Force co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Ronnie Thompson as his co-crew chiefs for the 2019 season.

“I’m excited to head out to Pomona for my first national event,” Prock said. “This is what I’ve been working towards for years now. I know it took a lot of hard work from everyone at John Force Racing to be able to make this happen.”

While Prock is new behind the wheel for JFR, he’s no stranger to the organization. He previously worked on the mechanical side of both Courtney Force’s and Brittany Force’s race cars.

Before joining JFR, Prock was an outstanding sprint and midget car driver. In 2012 he was named National Pavement Midget Rookie of the Year. A year later he was awarded the Bob Tattersall Hard Charger of the Year. In 2014, his first year racing a complete schedule, Prock was the STARS National Pavement Midget Champion after winning four races.

Following his championship year, Prock entered into the world of Dirt Sprint Cars and picked up a win in his seventh start.

Prock finished his circle track career having entered 139 races with 27 wins and 84 top five finishes.

Now it’s on to the 1,000-foot straight-line for Prock, who recently earned his NHRA Top Fuel driver’s license and tested at last weekend’s NHRA preseason test in Chandler, Arizona.

“I’m ready to get my professional drag racing career started,” he said. “I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m confident. I’ve got John Force, Don Prudhomme, and all of JFR in my corner, that believe in me.

“I get to be out with my family, continue the family trade and represent a legendary team. What more could I ask for? … I’m going to have fun while I’m out here.”

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Hildebrand enters Indy 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

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INDIANAPOLIS — J.R. Hildebrand will race in the Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in a second entry dedicated to the late Dan Gurney.

Hildebrand will pilot the No. 48 as a nod to the number used by Gurney, a racer, car builder and team owner who died in 2018. Hildebrand will be teammates with Sage Karam and his car will be sponsored by Salesforce.com.

Hildebrand has eight previous Indy 500 starts and was leading on the final lap as a rookie in 2011 when he crashed in the final turn. Dan Wheldon slipped past for the victory and Hildebrand finished second.

Hildebrand also drove for DRR last season.

DRR is also fielding the #24 Chevrolet in this year’s Indy 500 for Sage Karam.