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Austin Prock Wins in Funny Car Debut at Inaugural PRO Superstar Shootout

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The stars of John Force Racing joined their toughest competition at the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage at Bradenton Motorsports Park. The event, an invitational match race aimed to promote drag racing in a new and fan-focused way, used social media and support from PRO (Pro Racer’s Owners Organization) to enhance fan experience both at the track and watching on FloRacing. A private three-day testing session acted as a preview for the week. Each of the three JFR Chevrolet race teams led their respective leaderboards at different times during the time trials. 

Qualifying for the PRO Superstar Shootout consisted of four rounds, with an evening session on Thursday night, followed by three additional rounds on Friday. In both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, eight teams advanced. Austin Prock, driving the Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car, achieved the class-best speed with a 3.825 ET at 337.41 mph. John Force, piloting the PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car, attained the third-best qualifying result with a 3.849-second elapsed time at 332.59 mph. A random chip draw determined Austin Prock to compete against Alexis DeJoria and John Force would match up with longtime friend and rival Cruz Pedregon. 

Brittany Force, driving the Monster Energy Chevrolet Top Fuel dragster, posted a best qualifying effort of 3.736 seconds at 330.39 MPH, ranking eleventh overall, but did not qualify for the main event. Teams that did not advance into the PRO Superstar Shootout competed in a unique cross-class competition that paired both Top Fuel and Funny Car teams on track against one another for the newly formed Don Schumacher Nitro Superstar Award. This event took place Saturday in between rounds of the PRO Superstar Shootout. Times each round were compared against like-class competition to determine advancement. The Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, led by crew chiefs David Grubnic and John Collins, posted a 3.862-second elapsed time at 302.75 MPH against Blake Alexander’s Jim Head Racing Funny Car. Unfortunately, it was not quick enough to advance after a Top Fuel run by Steve Torrence resulted in a 3.787-second elapsed time at 328.78 MPH. 

“Our Monster Energy team spent five days in Bradenton at the PRO Superstar Shootout and did not leave with a win but are leaving with some solid runs going into the start of our season,” said the two-time champion, Brittany Force. “Not qualifying for the main event was tough but we had a lot of changes we had to adjust to. We gained three new crew members and a new co-crew chief in John Collins. They are all great assets to the team, and I can already see this group is going to be successful.”

Force had only competed against a Funny Car one other time in her career, against her father, John Force, in 2014 in a match race at Palm Beach International Raceway. “This weekend is all about entertaining the fans, and I believe they got quite a show. As a result of not qualifying, I was automatically entered into the Top Fuel vs. Funny Car event.”

Elimination racing in the PRO Superstar Shootout feature commenced at 2 p.m. on Saturday amidst a packed venue and under sunny skies, with temperatures peaking at 81 degrees. Leading the charge were the Jimmy Prock and Thomas Prock-led Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS team, as well as the Daniel Hood, Chris Cunningham, and Tim Fabrisi-led PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS team, both of which successfully advanced through the initial round of competition. 

In the second round of the Shootout, an additional chip draw determined that teammates John Force and Austin Prock would compete head-to-head in the semi-final, guaranteeing a John Force Racing team in the final round for a chance to win the $250,000 grand prize. Prock’s 3.890-second elapsed time defeated his boss Force’s 3.914-second run in a closely contested race.

In the final round of Funny Car competition, Prock and reigning world champion Matt Hagan were paired together. Despite it being his debut race, Prock showcased his veteran expertise, clocking in with a 3.845-second elapsed time at 332.43 MPH, outpacing Hagan’s 3.872-second elapsed time at 329.75 MPH.

“I don’t even know what to say, I’m stunned. We just won the biggest payout in drag racing history,” Prock said. “We took it to the winner’s circle, Grandpa.”

“Anytime you win It’s a great day. To see the young Austin Prock working with his dad and brother, being able to win the PRO Superstar Shootout shows you they can deliver,” said John Force Racing owner and 16-time world champion John Force of the historic victory. “I’m sure that Robert will be excited for Prock and to see him win in his absence.”

The season continues with the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series starting with the NHRA Gatornationals March 7-10 at Gainesville Raceway.

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This story was originally published on February 12, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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