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

John Force Racing/Ron Lewis

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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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III