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Prock, Force Get John Force Racing Off to Hot Start in Epping

Austin Prock enters race day at the New England Nationals in the No.1 qualifying spot.

Austin Prock earned the No.1 seed in Funny Car entering Sunday’s eliminations in the NHRA New England Nationals. (Photo: Allen Saucier | The Podium Finish)

EPPING, N.H. – John Force Racing has had some very good weekends at New England Dragway. This weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals are shaping up to be one of those weekends after Austin Prock qualified number one in Funny Car, followed closely by John Force, who added a Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge win for the team.

Both driver’s put their names atop the Funny Car ladder on Friday night when there were optimal air and track conditions, with Prock ripping off a 3.837 second pass, and Force narrowly behind him with a time of 3.865.

“We’re still on that beginner’s luck wave,” Prock joked. “I don’t know what to say. Things are just aligning right now. The team and crew chiefs are melding together well. I’m just having a lot of fun driving this car right now, and when you’re having fun usually success comes with it.”

That success has come in the form of five No. 1 qualifying nods in the first seven races of his Funny Car career, to go along with a win in Phoenix.

“Five out of seven is pretty unreal,” Prock said. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We really want to get the job done for AAA. To be number one qualifier in these colors is a really good feeling. We struggled in Pomona with these colors, and I’m glad we could turn it around. They’ve been a longtime partner of ours and we’re happy to do well for them.”

Changing weather conditions could impact Prock and team

Friday night’s big run came in fantastic conditions, but those conditions did not last, as Saturday was much warmer and Sunday, race day, is anticipated to be warmer still. But Prock said he is confident in his team’s ability to adjust.

That confidence looked well placed during Saturday’s third round of qualifying, when Prock picked up three more bonus points with the top elapsed time of the session, a 3.973 second pass – one of only two sub-four second passes in the session.

“You’ve got to have a well-rounded race car,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to throw down when its really cool out like it was last night, and you’ve got to be able to whoa the thing up when it’s hot and greasy out like today.”

The strong runs in varying conditions at New England Dragway help Prock and the team not only with their starting position on the Top Fuel ladder, but also to gather data for future races at the track.

“These runs are a premium,” Prock said. “You only get so many in a year. When you have success it just makes your notebook that much better. We made three really good runs.”

Things are not supposed to come as easily as they seem to have come for Prock since stepping into the car previously driven by Robert Hight, who is sitting out this season. But the data that Hight and the team collected in previous New England Dragway visits gave Prock’s crew chief (and father) Jimmy Prock a good sense of how to attack the differing conditions.

John Force won Saturday's Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty challenge.

John Force qualified No. 2 in Funny Car at New England Dragway this weekend. (Photo: Allen Saucier | The Podium Finish.)

Force uses hole shot to win Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge

John Force narrowly missed the top spot in qualifying, sliding into the No. 2 spot behind Prock as they enter race day. He made up for that, however, with a thrilling win in the Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge, where he beat Blake Alexander on a hole shot.

“I know (Alexander’s crew chief) Jim Head. He’s tricky,” Force said. “He’ll go down any type of race track. Alexander can drive. They can all leave on me. Don’t believe what you see in the (time slip). I rolled it deep because I tried to get a few inches on him if that’s what it takes to win, and evidently it helped me get it.”

The staging strategy gave Force an advantage out of the gates, which he parlayed into his first Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge win of 2024. His time of 4.048 seconds was good enough to beat Alexander’s 3.994 second run because of the starting line advantage he gained.

“I’m excited just to be in the fight,” Force said. “I don’t want to be out here if I’m not competitive. I didn’t start dominating until I was 50 years old. That’s when I figured out how this shit worked.”

Now he wants to get back to consistently competing for wins, starting Sunday in Epping, where he has won twice before.

“It’s nice to get a win,” he said. “It ain’t the big paycheck, but it’s a paycheck. And it all helps.”

Force said the biggest thing about picking up the 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge win, is that it gives him a chance to show love to his sponsors who have stuck with him during both good times and bad. Now he hopes to cap the weekend with another Wally.

“To go out there with Old World Industries, Cornwell Tools, AAA, Chevrolet and, it’s a good weekend,” Force said. “It was nice to win. Tomorrow’s the big day though. Let’s get after it.”

Race Day match ups are set for Epping

With qualifying in the books, the following match ups will be held in the first round of the NHRA New England Nationals:

Prock will take on Mike Smith, the 16-seed  in round one, on Sunday. No. 8 Chad Green vs. No. 9 Alexis Dejoria; No 4 Daniel Wilkerson vs. Cory Lee; No. 5 Matt Hagan vs. No. 12 Ron Capps; No. 2 John Force vs. No. 15 Buddy Hull; No. 7 Blake Alexander vs. No. 10 Terry Haddock, No. 3 JR Todd vs. Dave Richards; No. 6 Bob Tasca III vs. No. 11 Cruz Pedregon.

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