Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Austin Prock Joins John Force in Collecting NHRA Wins at Phoenix

Tom Macht photos

John Force Racing driver Austin Prock proved Sunday that he is unquestionably a quick learner.

In just his third career NHRA start in a Funny Car, the Lansing, Mich., native recorded his first win in that class, earning top honors in the 39th annual Arizona Nationals at Firebird Motorsports Park.

Prock (3.952 seconds/320.74 mph) defeated Alexis DeJoria (4.049 seconds/316.90 mph) in the final round.

“This is huge,” Prock said. “All you want to do is to make your parents proud. It was a big win for Chevrolet and a double-up for John Force Racing. We’re rolling out of here with some gold, baby. WOOOOOH!”

Cheered on by a second straight sold-out crowd in as many days, Prock joined team owner John Force in leaving Phoenix with a Wally winner’s trophy.

Force won the final round of Saturday’s weather-postponed Winternationals, which was rained out two weeks ago at Pomona, Calif., and rescheduled for this weekend at Phoenix.

Getting back to Prock, the first-year Funny Car driver is piloting the Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car this season, replacing three-time champion Robert Hight, who stepped out of the car prior to the start of this season to deal with a medical situation.

Hight drove to victory in the last two editions of the Arizona Nationals in 2022 and 2023, and now Prock has made it three triumphs in a row.

It was the first time Prock has won with his father, Jimmy, as his crew chief, and Austin’s brother, Thomas, as assistant crew chief. Jimmy and Thomas held those same roles the last several years with Hight behind the wheel.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Austin Prock becomes the 19th driver in NHRA history to win national events in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. And he was also a quick learner when he first started driving a Top Fuel dragster: it only took him 16 races to earn his first win in that class, as well.

“To get my first Funny Car win and enter a league of its own with the Don Prudhomme’s, the Shawn Langdon’s, the J.R. Todd’s, the Kenny Bernstein’s, all these people that are legends and future Hall of Famers, it’s pretty cool to be a part of that small group,” Prock said. “To do it with my family makes it even more special.”

Prock won a non-NHRA exhibition race in his first-ever start in a Funny Car at Bradenton, Fla., back in February. He also captured four wins in NHRA competition during his stint as a full-time Top Fuel driver for John Force Racing between 2019 and 2023.

“This thing is just bad fast and I’m hanging on and trying to learn as fast as I can,” Prock said. “It’s definitely been a crash course, but I’m doing the best I can. That’s all you can ask.”

It was Prock’s second time in the final round in the first three NHRA national events this season. He finished runner-up to J.R. Todd in the season-opening race at Gainesville, Fla.

After earning No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car for the second time in the season’s first three races, Prock (4.398 seconds/277.83 mph) defeated Buddy Hull in Sunday’s first round.

In the second round, Prock again won (4.053 seconds/280.54 mph), but had a scare before escaping unscathed. In that quarterfinal matchup with Dan Wilkerson, Prock struggled with the handling of his car.

Prock’s car just barely missed grazing the outside retaining wall, which would have resulted in a disqualification. However, NHRA officials determined that while Prock’s car did blow down a sign attached to the wall due to exhaust coming from the header pipes on his car, there was no damage or wall scrapes done to his car.

Then came Prock’s semifinal match with Todd, who defeated team owner and patriarch John Force in their previous quarterfinal matchup.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Prock kept his momentum going by winning (3.999 seconds/315.34 mph), getting some revenge on Todd for his win over Prock in Gainesville.

Prock’s victory salvaged the day’s hopes for John Force Racing and set up his bid for a first Funny Car “Wally” winner’s trophy.

This weekend was also the second time the 29-year-old Prock qualified No. 1 in the first three events of 2024, the previous time also being in the season-opener at Gainesville. Sunday’s win was a big boost to his confidence. If he gets on a roll, there’s no telling what his potential could be.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, you shouldn’t be here,” said Prock, who leaves Phoenix in second place in the standings, just two points behind Todd. “This is a very competitive class, and if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to be competitive. You’ve got to walk around here believing you can do it, walk with your chin up, take your punches, and try and swing some back.

“That’s all I’ve been doing. I’ve just been trying to be a sponge. The tough thing about drag racing is you don’t get another lap to fix it. You go up there, and you’ve got to be perfect. If you make a mistake, you’ve got to sit around for three hours or more, and then go up there and make sure you don’t make it again.

“That’s what makes drag racing so tough. I’ve just been focused. I’ve got the best people in my corner. We’ve got the best sponsors, and the best parts and pieces. I’m just trying not to mess it up essentially. It’s working. I’ve been able to showcase my talent in a really tough field in a tough car.”

As for team owner John Force, he was still basking in the glow of his win on Saturday, his first triumph in nearly two years, but more importantly, the 156th victory of his legendary career. He was as happy about Prock’s win on Sunday as he was about his own victory one day earlier.

“It was a fantastic weekend for Cornwell Tools and Chevrolet, clinching a victory like that, especially with Prock landing his first NHRA Funny Car win,” Force said. “It’s a big deal. We had to navigate through some changes, with Robert Hight, a three-time champion, stepping back for a bit. But everything’s aligning well for John Force Racing.”

Force, who turns 75 years old on May 4, won Saturday’s rain-delayed and rescheduled Winternationals, which was moved from Pomona, Calif., to Arizona after its final round was rained out two weeks ago.

It also was Force’s first win in nearly two years, his last triumph coming May 1, 2022 at the 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“Clinching the victory in Phoenix yesterday was thrilling,” said Force, the driver of the PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. “It’s still early in the season, but this win sets a positive tone we’re all proud of. Yet, we’re mindful of the fierce competition out there; we’ve got our work cut out for us. But still, it sure was a great weekend for John Force Racing.”

Force hoped to pull off another win on Sunday, but those hopes came to a premature end.

Force came into Sunday’s Arizona Nationals eliminations hoping to make it two wins in a row. He started strong, rolling to the win (3.991 seconds/276.41 mph) in his first round match-up with Jim Campbell.

But Force’s quarterfinal match with J.R. Todd didn’t go the way the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ hoped for, as Todd defeated Force (4.036 seconds/317.64 mph), ending Force’s hope of winning two races on the same weekend.

With his win from Saturday, Force leaves Phoenix third in the NHRA Funny Car points standings, as the Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series series moves on to the next national event in Las Vegas next weekend.

Despite coming into Sunday’s action having qualified No. 2 in Top Fuel, Force’s daughter, Brittany, made an early exit from eliminations in the opening first round.

The younger Force (6.396 seconds/117.06 mph) lost traction and smoked the tires on her Monster Energy dragster, losing to NASCAR Hall of Famer – and Top Fuel rookie this year – Tony Stewart.

“Starting off strong in Phoenix, we secured a second-place qualification and consistently made good runs,” Brittany Force said. “Unfortunately, our fortune shifted on race day when we were eliminated in the first round due to driving into smoke.

“However, we’re looking forward to testing tomorrow (Monday), planning to complete four laps in the heat, which should be beneficial before heading to Las Vegas.”

Force leaves Phoenix eighth in the NHRA Top Fuel standings.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

This story was originally published on April 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

You May Also Like


The star-studded STREET OUTLAWS: No Prep Kings series is set to return for its 6th season in the summer of 2023. Fans can expect to...


Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings star and renowned engine builder Pat Musi joined the recent episode of The Wes Buck Show and provided an update...


Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings star Lizzy Musi announced today that she has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer via her Youtube channel....


Ryan Fellows, who starred in “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America,” died in a tragic crash while filming for the show in Las Vegas on...

Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.