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Prock, Force Go 1-2 in First Day Qualifying at Epping

Funny Car rookie Austin Prock drove the AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS through the 1,000-foot timers in 3.837 seconds at 336.23 miles per hour in ideal conditions Friday night to claim the provisional No. 1 starting position for Sunday’s 11th NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

“Yeah, that was pretty awesome,” Prock enthused. “Good speed, too. I finally nipped Tasca (Funny Car rival Bob Tasca III), you know. He’s been beating us up on the mile per hour. But 336, we’re happy with that, just so happy to get this AAA Camaro running good. Hopefully (Friday’s time) will stick for the weekend.”

Boss and teammate John Force grabbed the provisional No. 2 position behind Prock at 3.868 seconds, 333.16 mph in the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Camaro. Two final qualifying sessions Saturday will set the field for Sunday’s single elimination finals.

While Prock and Force were dominating the Funny Car category, going 1-2 in both Friday sessions, two-time Top Fuel World Champion Brittany Force and her Monster Energy dragster were showing flashes of their old form after a couple of disappointing starts.

NHRA photo

After a solid 3.783 at 331.69 mph in the opening session, Brittany crossed the line in the provisional No. 3 spot, a welcome turnaround following a rare qualifying failure two weeks ago at Chicago.

“Day one here in Epping and this Monster Energy team is off to a good start,” she said after stopping the timers in 3.715 seconds at 333.57 mph. “We are coming out of a rough week in Chicago. We went testing in Indy and we definitely have a better understanding of this car on hot racetracks. We still have a lot to figure out but I feel confident going into this weekend with Monster Energy,, PEAK, Flav-R-Pac and Chevrolet.”

In addition to qualifying, Saturday’s program will include the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge featuring the Chicago semifinalists. John Force will be among the four Funny Car drivers battling for cash and Countdown bonus points. He’ll oppose Daniel Wilkerson in a first round match at the conclusion of Saturday’s first session. Finals will follow the last session.

Prock’s Friday time was just a tick off the track records set seven years ago by the man for who he is driving the AAA Camaro this year, three-time World Champ Robert Hight. Hight sped down New England’s all-concrete surface in 3.822 seconds at 336.74 mph on June 3, 2017.

“We thought it would run ’82 or ’83,” Prock said. “The conditions were there for that. It’s pretty surreal. I’m just holding on to the wheel. All the kudos go to this AAA team. They’re doing such a great job. My dad (crew chief Jimmy Prock) and brother (Thomas) are making really smart decisions. And the team is putting the car together the same way every time – it’s really impressive.”

Force, too, was in a mood to credit his crew for his Friday success which included an opening 3.903 that was quickest of the first session.

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“My guys, led by Daniel Hood, gave me a real good race car,” he said. “The only guy who lets them down is me so, I gotta fix me.”

Force, the sport’s all-time biggest winner with 156 tour victories and 16 World Championships, is a two-time past winner at Epping, where he prevailed in 2015 and again in 2021.

This story was originally published on June 1, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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