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Austin Prock Earns No. 1 Spot For Montana Brand At NHRA Sonoma Nationals

After two days of qualifying with four passes down Sonoma Raceway, Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet dragster team earned their first No. 1 qualifier of the season at the DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevy Camaro SS team moved their way into the No. 6 spot while Brittany Force with the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team are starting from the No. 9 spot and John Force with the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant are starting from the No. 11 spot.

With Prock securing the No. 1 spot, the John Force Racing team swept the top spots on the NHRA’s famed Western Swing. Brittany Force started things off in Denver when she took No. 1 while setting the track speed record at 337.33 mph and in Seattle, John Force earned the No. 1 spot to extend to 32 the number of seasons he’s had at least one No. 1 qualifying position.

Now in Sonoma, Austin Prock and the Montana Brand team earned the second No. 1 qualifier of Prock’s career with their impressive 3.701-second pass from Friday night. Coming into Saturday, the Montana Brand team had tire smoke during their first run for only a 4.923 at 166.05. They managed to turn things back up on their last try with a 3.869 at 311.92. Their efforts earned them a bye in the first round.

“I’m really comfortable right now and confident in this Montana Brand team. We made a pretty good run in the fourth session there. It trucked along pretty good. I think it put a cylinder out that scrubbed some ET off of it but it was fun to race, that right lane has been pretty tricky,” Prock said. “I’m really proud of this team, this goes out to my Montanan Brand boys. These No. 1 qualifiers are hard to come by, only my second in three years. It’s all about the race team, your crew chiefs and crew outdid everyone else out here and that’s very special. This is the first No. 1 for Chris Cunningham as a Top Fuel crew chief and he and Joe Barlam are really working well together. There’s a lot of fun energy in our pit right now. I know this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team will get dialed in for race day, we’re going to go out there and win this thing tomorrow.”

Robert Hight and Cornwell Tools Chevy made their best run of the weekend to close out qualifying on Saturday. Hight would handle his Camaro to a 3.952-second pass at 325.22 mph to secure the No. 6 position. The Cornwell Tools team opened the day with a 4.633 at 183.02. Hight will be looking for his fifth victory at the Sonoma Nationals when he lines up against team owner John Force to start race day.

“Tough qualifying sessions, all around. We struggled, but that last run gave us something to work with,” Hight said. “The lanes have been tricky, but Safety Safari has been trying to even them out. We’ll see how things go tomorrow, early in the day, it’ll be cooler, could be really good. This Cornwell Tools team definitely needs to find some consistency and we know how to do that. Should be interesting, we’ll keep our heads down and keep doing our job; I’m confident in this team and hope we’re celebrating in the winner’s circle tomorrow evening.”

Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac team didn’t start Saturday the way they wanted, smoking the tires for only a 6.876-second pass at 84.02 mph. However, the Flav-R-Pac dragster picked things up in the final session for a 3.817 pass at 323.58. They finished qualifying in the No. 9 spot off their Friday night 3.771 run. They’ll start the defense of their 2022 Sonoma Nationals victory against Clay Millican in the first round.

“Wrapping up qualifying here at Sonoma Raceway. We struggled a little bit and ended up number nine,” Force said. “Definitely not where we wanted to be, but tomorrow is a new day. The lanes are looking better; they’re evening out a little bit. We thought lane choice was going to be crucial, but we might be ok. We face Millican first round tomorrow and we are looking for four win lights. We want to defend our title from last season. We won here last year, and we want to do it again.”

John Force and the PEAK Chevy found their groove in the final session running a 3.983-second pass at 320.89 mph to start race day from the No. 11 spot. Their first run of the day had tire smoke for the PEAK Camaro to go only 5.183 at 146.10. Force will be chasing his ninth win at Sonoma Raceway when he starts the day against Hight.

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“Had some difficulties out there. NHRA, they tried to get the track back so we could put on a good show. That last session, that was pretty good. I’m feeling good, Getting this PEAK Chevy down the track,” Force said. “We had a board member from PEAK out here, Christina Hurvis, out here with her family. Want to show them what we do, show them a good show. Happy we got down the track. Looking forward to getting on the track tomorrow. I’m here to win, wouldn’t be doing this if that wasn’t the goal.”

The DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway continues with eliminations Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Television coverage of the event continues with a second qualifying show Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Eliminations will be aired on FOX Broadcast Network Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

This story was originally published on July 30, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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