John Force Racing/Ron Lewis

NHRA: Austin Prock ready to ride his rocket to victory in Phoenix

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After a great start to the season, the man they call the “Prock Rocket” is ready for takeoff yet again.

Second-year Top Fuel driver Austin Prock – whose Twitter handle is @ProckRocket_TF – still is basking in his runner-up finish in the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals two weeks ago at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

Prock breezed through the first three rounds before losing a close battle to Doug Kalitta in the final round. It was Kalitta’s third straight win in the Winternationals, a new NHRA record.

“We had a great start to the season in Pomona,” the 24-year-old Prock said in a media release. “We made a career-best qualifying position (was the No. 2 qualifier in Top Fuel) and made a final-round appearance.”

Prock earned the NHRA Road to the Future Award last season – the sport’s version of Rookie of the Year – including winning his first career Top Fuel race last August at Seattle, Washington, and finishing an impressive eighth in the final season standings.

A Southern California native who now lives in suburban Indianapolis, Prock drives for John Force Racing, led by team patriarch John Force, who is the winningest driver in drag racing history with 16 Funny Car championships and 151 national event wins.

With one race in the books and 23 more to go this season, the young Prock – son of veteran NHRA crew chief Jimmy Prock, who is crew chief for Austin Prock’s teammate and three-time Funny Car champ Robert Hight – is eager to pick up where he left off at Pomona. He gets the chance to do that in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“I’m ready to get to Phoenix,” Prock said. “I think this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team has the drive that it will take to win in the desert, so I’m excited to see what we can get done there.

“We want to keep up our performance and be consistent this weekend, too, especially after what we accomplished at the Winternats.”

Prock drives the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Top Fuel dragster, which is partly owned by another drag racing legend,  Don “Snake” Prudhomme.

“I think we’re well on our way to having a really great season,” Prock said. “We’re ambitious and we want to keep our momentum rolling. This team is ready to get after it and show what we can do.”

Nitro qualifying at the NHRA Arizona Nationals takes place Friday with sessions at 2:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. (local time) and will continue Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eliminations are slated to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. (local time).

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Alex Marquez wins first MotoGP #StayAtHomeGP Virtual Race

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Alex Marquez of Spain won the inaugural MotoGP #StayAtHomeGP Virtual Race as the world’s premier bike racing series followed other motorsports into online racing.

The #StayAtHomeGP, which was streamed Sunday on several platforms including the Motorsports on NBC YouTube channel, featured a field of 10 riders competing on their console gaming systems at home.

Francesco Bagnaia was the runner-up, and Maverick Vinales rounded out the podium.

INDYCAR iRACING: Sage Karam wins Watkins Glen opener

Defending MotoGP premier series champion Marc Marquez, the older brother of the rookie race winner and his teammate at Repsol Honda Team, finished fifth.

Here’s a recap of the race from the MotoGP site.

The premier class of MotoGP has yet to hit the track this season as its opener was canceled and the next three races were postponed, including the Grand Prix of the Americas being moved from April 5 to Nov. 15.

Several other racing series have tried online racing in recent weeks.

IMSA held a “SuperSaturday at Sebring” March 21 in place of the postponed Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of SebringNASCAR started its Pro Invitational Series last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will continue Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. IndyCar kicked off its six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge with a Saturday race at Watkins Glen International that was won by Sage Karam.