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Prock No. 1 Funny Car Qualifier Fourth Time in Season’s First Six Races

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Funny Car driver Austin Prock held on to his provisional No. 1 qualifier spot in Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions, and will be the man to beat in Sunday’s eliminations of the NHRA Route 66 Nationals Presented by PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant at Route 66 Raceway.

Prock, who continues to lead the Funny Car point standings, laid down his best qualifying attempt during Friday’s two rounds with run of 3.907 seconds at 332.45 mph.

His first run Saturday in the Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was 4.49 seconds at 196.07 mph, while his second run was 3.976 seconds at 322.88 mph, but Friday’s best run held up to keep Prock at the top of the heap.

“We just got to keep doing that because you know it definitely adds up,” Prock said. “I’ve been talking about it’s going to be a longshot but we want to try and race our way into that All-Star shootout. That would be pretty spectacular.”

Prock has now entered final eliminations as No. 1 in four of the first six races. He also has one win (Phoenix) and hopes Chicago can be the scene of his second NHRA Funny Car win.

Although Prock has been exceptional in qualifying, there has yet to be a repeat winner in the first five races. He hopes to change that Sunday.

“This year has been such a blur to me,” Prock said. “It doesn’t even seem real. But yeah, that’d be great to become the first repeat winner. I definitely think we’re capable of doing it. And I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I have family and friends out here and it would be really cool to celebrate in the Winner’s Circle. Yeah, let’s go.”

Prock will face Jack Wyatt in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations.

Meanwhile, John Force Racing’s other Funny Car driver, 16-time champion and team patriarch John Force, is No. 4 heading into Sunday’s eliminations.

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In Round 1 of Saturday’s race-within-a-race for the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and the first of two qualifying runs, Force lost to J.R. Todd.

Force had a good reaction time (.031 seconds to Todd’s .082 start), but started losing traction about halfway down the 1,000-foot drag strip and Todd was able to get past Force, who recorded a run of 4.678 seconds at 181.01 mph.

In Saturday’s final qualifying session, Force’s effort was more stout: 3.976 seconds at 322.88 mph in topping Paul Lee.

Force will face Buddy Hull in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

“This car has been fast, I just gotta fix myself in the driver’s seat,” Force said. “I made a good run, I was low ET the last session.”

In Top Fuel, Brittany Force had a frustrating weekend, never able to get her dragster to hook up and not lose traction. The younger Force wound up with a DNQ, only the fifth of her NHRA career and first since 2014, meaning she will not take part in Sunday’s eliminations.

“We’re in a really tough position right now, and nobody wants to be here,” Brittany Force said. “it’s not easy for any of this team to be in this position. And it doesn’t just affect us, it affects all of John Force Racing. All the guys from other teams came over and patted me on the back, and they said, ‘Sorry, you’ll be back on top. Don’t worry about it.’

“So we all feel it. We all take our losses as one team. But right now, I always try to find the positive in every negative situation. And we will climb out of this. I think it’s preparing us for something bigger, which will be down the road. And we will look back on this and go remember when we all pulled together and we climbed out and look at us now. And I believe that.”

Driving for race presenting sponsor PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant, like her father, 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, Brittany was one of six Top Fuel drivers who failed to reach the eliminations.

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In Q3 on Saturday, Brittany recorded a run of 3.911 seconds at 297.16 mph, but it wasn’t enough to get her into the eliminations.

In her last chance to qualify in Saturday afternoon, the younger Force had a Q4 run of 4.106 seconds at 264.65 mph, again not good enough to make Sunday’s show.

Added John Force, “What was most important to me is my daughter, Brittany. It’s just a part of life. We got snake bit by the track, we were supposed to test, we set up a lot of new stuff, but the rain didn’t allow to test this this week on Tuesday (in Indianapolis).

“You know, anybody can be great. It’s the ones that are tough and get knocked down and get up and my kid got knocked down today and she’ll get out. She’s a two-time world champ — and don’t forget that.”

This story was originally published on May 18, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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