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NHRA: Austin Prock ready to ride his rocket to victory in Phoenix

Austin Prock at Pomona 1 2020 - Ron Lewis photo

After a great start to the season, the man they call the “Prock Rocket” is ready for takeoff yet again.

Second-year Top Fuel driver Austin Prock – whose Twitter handle is @ProckRocket_TF – still is basking in his runner-up finish in the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals two weeks ago at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

Prock breezed through the first three rounds before losing a close battle to Doug Kalitta in the final round. It was Kalitta’s third straight win in the Winternationals, a new NHRA record.

“We had a great start to the season in Pomona,” the 24-year-old Prock said in a media release. “We made a career-best qualifying position (was the No. 2 qualifier in Top Fuel) and made a final-round appearance.”

Prock earned the NHRA Road to the Future Award last season – the sport’s version of Rookie of the Year – including winning his first career Top Fuel race last August at Seattle, Washington, and finishing an impressive eighth in the final season standings.

A Southern California native who now lives in suburban Indianapolis, Prock drives for John Force Racing, led by team patriarch John Force, who is the winningest driver in drag racing history with 16 Funny Car championships and 151 national event wins.

With one race in the books and 23 more to go this season, the young Prock – son of veteran NHRA crew chief Jimmy Prock, who is crew chief for Austin Prock’s teammate and three-time Funny Car champ Robert Hight – is eager to pick up where he left off at Pomona. He gets the chance to do that in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“I’m ready to get to Phoenix,” Prock said. “I think this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team has the drive that it will take to win in the desert, so I’m excited to see what we can get done there.

“We want to keep up our performance and be consistent this weekend, too, especially after what we accomplished at the Winternats.”

Prock drives the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Top Fuel dragster, which is partly owned by another drag racing legend, Don “Snake” Prudhomme.

“I think we’re well on our way to having a really great season,” Prock said. “We’re ambitious and we want to keep our momentum rolling. This team is ready to get after it and show what we can do.”

Nitro qualifying at the NHRA Arizona Nationals takes place Friday with sessions at 2:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. (local time) and will continue Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eliminations are slated to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. (local time).

Follow @JerryBonkowski