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Prock, Kalitta and Tucker Roll to No. 1 Spots at NHRA 4-Wide Nationals

Austin Prock stayed nearly perfect in qualifying, taking his third Funny Car No. 1 qualifier in four races on Saturday during the 24th annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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

Prock, who also won his first Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, rolled to the top spot in Funny Car on Saturday, going 3.904-seconds at 321.42 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS to claim his second straight top spot and third in four races. The team continues to roll, as Prock made three consecutive standout runs to slip past John Force, J.R. Todd and Bob Tasca III to get to the top. He’ll be in an opening-round quad that features Jeff Diehl, Blake Alexander and Alexis DeJoria a week after picking up his first Funny Car victory.

“That Tasca team, they do a great job. We’ve been duking it out all year, and he made a nice run in front of me today right before that last qualifying session,” Prock said. “I’m like, ‘Alright, well, the track’s pretty good,’ and along with my boss, John Force running [3.]90, it showed there was some potential out there to make a really good run.

“My team has done a great job in these hot conditions. We’re really getting a handle on these hot weather conditions, and that was kind of our goal this year, to really dial that in because it’s typically really fast when it’s cool out. It’s going to cool down tomorrow so it’s definitely going to be the quickest runs you’ll see all weekend.”

Force took the second spot with a 3.908 at 326.79, while points leader J.R. Todd moved up to third in the final session with a 3.930 at 322.19.

In Top Fuel, Kalitta improved on his Friday performance, staying in the No. 1 position with stellar pass of 3.738 at 336.82 in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster. It’s the first No. 1 spot this year for the defending world champ and the 54th in his career. He’ll open up raceday in a quad that includes teammate and points leader Shawn Langdon and four-time world champion Steve Torrence. It makes for a tough start to Sunday, but Kalitta also knows the importance of an early-season win.

“The team it stepped it up to that 3.73 in that first session, so that was plenty strong for the conditions. I’m feeling really confident with what we got going on,” Kalitta said. “I think on that last run, we were maybe just pushing it a little, much just to see what we could do. But the track seems plenty good in all the lanes and it should be a good day tomorrow. It’s going to be a little cooler, which should play into our hand performance-wise.”

Tony Schumacher qualified second with a 3.768 at 325.53 and Clay Millican’s 3.773 at 332.34 has him third.

In his second season in the Pro Stock ranks, Jerry Tucker picked up his first career No. 1 qualifier, going 6.612 at 206.61 in his Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer/SCAG Power Equipment car. It was a major moment for Tucker, who ran well right off the trailer in Las Vegas. He was the quickest of the opening session on Friday and then stepped up again to start the day on Saturday, clinching his first top qualifier in the loaded Pro Stock ranks. He’ll open eliminations in a quad featuring Chris McGaha, defending event winner Dallas Glenn and Elite Motorsports teammate Troy Coughlin Jr.

“I’m just trying to get my driving together and I think it’s finally coming together. This is the car that Erica [Enders] drove last year and I managed to make three solid runs,” Tucker said. “It takes a year or so to learn how to drive [a Pro Stock car] properly. For the first five or six races you’re just riding along. Then you start to get a feel for it, but it takes a while to really figure it out. 

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From 1 to 16, they are all tough. I really don’t see any difference between anyone in the field. It won’t be easy tomorrow.”

Jeg Coughlin Jr., who won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Pro Stock, qualified second after going 6.625 at 206.64 and Greg Anderson is third thanks to his 6.625 at 206.32.

Eliminations for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals begin at 12 p.m. PT on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This story was originally published on April 13, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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