Photo Credit: Gary Nastase / Auto Imagery

EPPING, N.H. (June 1, 2024) – Substantially warmer track temperatures denied Austin Prock the opportunity to improve on a sensational Friday night qualifying performance, but it didn’t prevent the Funny Car rookie from putting a John Force Racing Chevrolet on the pole for Sunday’s 11th NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

Driving an Auto Club Camaro SS prepared by his dad, four-time World Championship-winning crew chief Jimmy Prock, the 28-year-old not only will race Sunday from the No. 1 qualifying position for the fifth time in seven races, he will do so from atop the driver standings after reclaiming the lead from Matt Hagan.

Eight qualifying bonus points plus the standard eight points that accrue to the No. 1 qualifier pushed the third generation drag racer back into the lead by eight points.  He will race journeyman Mike Smith in Sunday’s first round. 

“Five out of seven, that’s pretty unreal,” Prock said, “but I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  We really want to get the job done for AAA, but to be No. 1 qualifier in these colors is a really good feeling.  We struggled in Pomona (the last time the car was in AAA livery) and I’m glad we could turn it around (here).  They’ve been a long-time partner of ours and we’re happy to do them well (along with), GHX, ORC, Monster, PEAK, Cornwell Tools and all our other supporters.”

After stopping the timers in 3.837 seconds at 336.23 miles per hour on Friday, just shy of the track records set seven years ago by JFR president Robert Hight, Prock was quickest among all Funny Car drivers again on Saturday albeit at a much slower 3.973 seconds.  Hight, a three-time World Champion, set the track records of 3.822 seconds, 336.74 mph on June 3, 2017.

It actually will be a 1-2-3 start for JFR on Sunday.  Team founder John Force and his PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Camaro, winners Saturday of the Mission Foods 2Fast/2Tasty Challenge, earned the No. 2 starting position in the Funny Car field with a best of 3.865 seconds and a resurgent Brittany Force grabbed the No. 3 spot in Top Fuel, moving from 10th to ninth in points, after wrestling her Monster Energy Top Fuel Chevy into the No. 3 qualifying position with a time of 3.715 seconds and a track record finish line speed of 335.57 mph.  That speed broke the record she established in 2022.

“We go into race day from the No. 3 spot after a pretty consistent two days of qualifying, she said.  “This Monster Energy team reset the track record last night and we are pumped (about that).  We feel like we are in a good position after the improvements we’ve made throughout the weekend.  Excited for race day tomorrow.”

A two-time Top Fuel World Champion and the only woman other than Shirley Muldowney to have beaten the boys in drag racing’s signature category, Brittany will begin her bid for a second New England Nationals title against eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher.

As for her dad, he’ll face Buddy Hull in Sunday’s first round in a PEAK Chevy that has been almost as good as the “Prock Rocket.”

“It’s a good hot rod,” crew chief Daniel Hood said of the car.  “Our boys are doing a helluva a job of putting it together and he’s doing good driving.”