Photo Source: Gary Nastase / Auto Imagery

DINWIDDIE, Va. (June 22, 2024) – Austin’s Prock’s No. 1 qualifying streak ended at three straight races Saturday, but the Funny Car point leader and his Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS still will be among the favorites Sunday when racing begins in the 14th PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park

Track temperatures are expected to exceed 135 degrees, which will make it exceedingly difficult for 12,000 horsepower race cars to maintain traction. That could bring the car control skills Prock honed during his time in quarter midgets and sprint cars into play in an event in which five different John Force Racing drivers have won previously including the late Eric Medlen in 2006.

Prock and No. 1 qualifier Bob Tasca III were the only drivers to earn bonus points in each of the three qualifying sessions, all of them on Saturday in an experimental two-day format. The Cornwell Camaro ran 4.027 on a 137 degree track surface, 4.122 on a 147 degree track and 4.037 on a 139 degree track and Prock deflected much of the credit to his brother, Thomas, co-crew chief on the car with dad Jimmy.

“When (Thomas) came over here, they really changed the set-up of this race car and really tried to work on their hot condition set-ups,” said the former NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year. “It’s really paying off. This thing will run when the track’s 80 degrees or 180 degrees, it seems like.  

“So we just pooched her on down there (on the final qualifying attempt, which also was the final round of the Mission Foods 2Fast/2Tasty NHRA Challenge) to make sure it would go, because we’re going to be racing in this nasty stuff tomorrow. So, great job to me Cornwell Tools team and proud of everyone on it.”

A two-time winner already this year, his first in the Funny Car class after racing previously in Top Fuel, Prock is trying to win at Richmond with basically the same crew that sent Robert Hight to the winners’ circle in virtually the same car in 2022, the last time the Virginia Nationals was contested.

Prock will line up in the first round against veteran Cruz Pedregon while Force, as the No. 5 qualifier, will send his PEAK Chevy to the line against journeyman Terry Haddock.

Meanwhile, Brittany Force won her first Mission Foods 2Fast/2Tasty Challenge on Saturday, but will start her Chevy dragster from the No. 11 position on Sunday, giving up the choice of lanes to rookie Jasmine Salinas. 

“You know, we really figured something out a few weekends ago in Bristol (Tenn.),” said the two-time World Champion and NHRA national record-holder. “We saw a big change in the car and we went to the semifinals.

“We’ve really been struggling, all last season and this season, but now we’re starting to turn a corner. The (2Fast/2Tasty) win was huge for our team,” said the 16-time tour winner. “Love this car, love this team., Monster Energy, Cornwell Tools, PEAK, Chevy and all our other sponsors. Thank you very much.”