It will be an interesting 2019 NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in top fuel as perennial favorite Tony Schumacher will not answer the call for round one qualifying citing a lack of sponsorship to run his car but Austin Prock of John Force racing will, marking his rookie start as a professional drag racer. The son of legendary crew chief Jimmy Prock, Austin has been a midget national champion and most recently a crewman for John Force racing while licensing and preparing for the moment he’ll confront this weekend.
Tony Schumacher’s absence at the race is jarring in the fact that he has not missed a race in more than 400 contested NHRA national events. Don Schumacher Racing had worked diligently on funding the car right up until they ran out of time, even towing the machine across the country to show it to a potential sponsor and fire it up in Southern California. While DSR continues to seek funding, the crew has been furloughed and the car sits in the trailer, primed and ready to go.
Austin Prock got his crossover license last weekend at Wildhorse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona. His reaction times on his licensing runs may be a harbinger of things to come. They were .063 and .045, two very stout numbers for a top fueler!
While we’ll miss Tony this weekend, seeing Austin make his first start with a newly signed sponsor will be a fun storyline.
AUSTIN PROCK MAKING NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES DEBUT AT WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2019) — Austin Prock, son of championship tuner Jimmy Prock, will make his NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series debut at the 2019 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this weekend. Prock will be driving the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Top Fuel dragster for John Force Racing tuned by crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Ronnie Thompson.
“I’m excited to head out to Pomona for my first national event,” Prock said. “This is what I’ve been working towards for years now. I know it took a lot of hard work from everyone at John Force Racing to be able to make this happen. I’m proud to be able to race for Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist and John Force Racing and I can’t wait to go rounds and ultimately get in the winner’s circle. It’s going to be an exciting year with Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist and I’m excited to be able to represent their brands.”
Prock and his team tested their newly built dragster at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park over the weekend making several passes and left crew chiefs Schaffer and Thompson confident they’ll be ready for the season-opening event.
“Obviously it was a good thing we made the trip out to testing, even if we did arrive late and have to put in overtime to be ready,” Prock said. “Everyone did their part to have us ready for Pomona, Force and Robert (Hight) worked the sponsorship side and I got more laps under my belt. Jon and Ronnie are happy with what learned at testing. It will be a great season; our main goal is to have fun and the results will come. We’re just grateful to be a part of this 2019 Mello Yellow Series.”
Prock started his career in drag racing as a member of Courtney Force’s Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS Funny Car team and then moved to working on super-chargers for world champion Brittany Force. Throughout his time with John Force Racing, Prock has been working his way to being the next driver for the legendary team.
As the newest addition to John Force Racing’s Next Generation initiative, Prock was licensed in a Super Comp dragster through Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, the same drag racing school from which world champions Robert Hight and Brittany Force as well as Courtney Force, Eric Medlen and even Force family matriarch Laurie Force earned their licenses. He was licensed in an Alcohol dragster in Indianapolis with Anthony Dicero and holds a Top Fuel dragster as well as nitro Funny Car license.
Prock first climbed into a race car at age 10. He collected his first race win before he was 12 years old and in 2012 he was named the National Pavement Midget Rookie of the Year. A year later he was awarded the Bob Tattersall Hard Charger of the Year. In 2014, his first year racing a complete schedule, Prock was the STARS National Pavement Midget Champion after winning four races. Following his championship year, Prock entered into the world of Dirt Sprint Cars and picked up a win in his seventh start.
Prock finished his circle track career having entered 139 races with 27 wins and 84 top five finishes.
While he worked his way up racing circle track, Prock’s roots and end goal were always in drag racing. Prock is the grandson of former NHRA driver Tom Prock and the son of world champion tuner Jimmy Prock who currently crew chiefs the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car for John Force Racing’s two-time world champion Robert Hight.
“I’m ready to get my professional drag racing career started with Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m confident. I’ve got John Force, Don Prudhomme, and all of JFR in my corner, that believe in me. I’m going to have fun while I’m out here,” said Prock. “I get to be out with my family, continue the family trade and represent a legendary team. What more could I ask for?”
The start to the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Season begins with qualifying at the Lucas Oil Winternationals on Friday at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Qualifying concludes Saturday with sessions at 12:30 and 4:00 p.m. Eliminations are set to commence Sunday at 11 a.m. Follow along with all the action on live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) Friday at 6 p.m. ET, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.