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Prock, Kalitta and Enders Deliver No. 1 Qualifiers in Front of Sellout Crowd at NHRA New England Nationals

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Funny Car’s Austin Prock claimed his fifth No. 1 qualifier in the first seven races of the 2024 season in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday at New England Dragway, powering to the top spot at the 11th annual NHRA New England Nationals.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also qualified No. 1 at the seventh of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

Prock’s rocket run of 3.837-seconds at 336.23 mph in his 11,000-horsepower AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS from Friday stayed on top to close out qualifying, as the first-year Funny Car continued to roll in qualifying. It’s also the eighth career top qualifier for the young standout, who is seeking his sixth career victory and second this year on Sunday. He’ll open raceday against Mike Smith on Sunday.

“It’s been great. To be low at five of seven races is unreal,” Prock said. “I really want to get the job done for AAA tomorrow. We struggled in Pomona with these colors on and I want to fix that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“These [Friday] runs are a premium. When you have success it builds notebooks for the crew chiefs. Things are aligning right now. The team is working together well. I’m having so much fun driving this thing right now.”

John Force, who won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday, is in second after Friday’s 3.865 at 333.16 and J.R. Todd took third with his 3.865 at 327.74 from Friday.

In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta stayed on a good path to possibly grab a victory at the only track where he hasn’t won, as Friday’s 3.700 at 332.84 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster remained atop the field. It handed the reigning world champ his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 56th in his career, and he capped off Saturday with a strong run in the warmer temperatures.

Next up is trying to go four rounds on Sunday and claim his first career victory at New England Dragway. He’ll face off with Scott Farley to open eliminations.

“My guys really have got this thing running well,” Kalitta said. “I’m just trying to do my part and go rounds on Sunday. I would love to win here at Epping. They had a great crowd here today and we’re hoping to have a great day tomorrow.

“We got info that we can use for tomorrow. The track was good. We got down on second run. On the first one we tried to find the edge and we did. Shawn [Langdon’s] car also ran well, too. [Crew chiefs] Alan Johnson and Brian Husen are working to get both cars as close together as possible.”

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Steve Torrence qualified second with a 3.702 at 335.23 from Friday and also won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday. Brittany Force finished third with Friday’s 3.715 at a track-record 335.57.

Defending and six-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders easily stayed atop the field on Saturday, as Friday’s run of 6.488 at 211.79 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment wasn’t challenged in Saturday’s warmer temperatures. It gives Enders her third No. 1 qualifier this season and she’ll open eliminations against Fernando Cuadra Jr., looking for her second win of the season and the 50th national event victory in her remarkable career. Enders is also the most recent Pro Stock winner at New England Dragway (2022).

“I’ve definitely got a race day tune-up for tomorrow. Our biggest challenge will be a tricky track but I’m thankful that’s the crew’s job and I can stay focused on my job,” Enders said.

“That 6.48 on Friday was really exciting. I’ve got a fast hot rod and I just need to stay focused and not allow outside influences to get in the way. This has been a great track for us. I enjoy going back to tracks where we’ve had success. I have to remain positive, visualize what we want and go get it.”

Troy Coughlin Jr. took second thanks to Friday’s 6.510 at 211.46 and points leader Dallas Glenn, who won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, ended in third with his 6.529 at 210.57.

Eliminations for the NHRA New England Nationals begin at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday at New England Dragway.

This story was originally published on June 2, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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