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Prock fastest at NHRA Gatornationals in Funny Car debut

Austin Prock set the Gainesville Raceway track record in his Funny Car debut on Friday for John Force Racing, powering to the provisional No. 1 position at the 55th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the first of 21 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.

Prock, the 2019 NHRA Rookie of the Year, moved from Top Fuel to Funny Car before the season and enjoyed an impressive start to the 2024 NHRA campaign, going 3.820s at 334.65mph in his Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS. If that holds, it would be his fourth No. 1 qualifier and first in his new class.

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“When you’re running this quick, it’s right on the ragged edge and you have to be perfect,” Prock said. “It’s been a lot to take in, but the way this car is running and the way my dad (crew chief Jimmy Prock) is feeling, it’s definitely been a fun experience. We’re all on the same page and my whole family has the same passion for this sport. To be successful is one thing, but to do it with your family is really special. I’ve really been looking forward to this season and this was a heck of a way to start.”

Bob Tasca III was right behind, going 3.829s at 337.75mph, with the speed mark setting a track record. Ron Capps took the third position with a 3.871s at 333.00mph.

Torrence made the quickest run in both Top Fuel qualifying sessions on Friday, as the four-time world champ went 3.690s at 333.08mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. If that holds, Torrence would earn his 38th career No. 1 position and sets him up nicely for Saturday’s Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout. Torrence is the No. 1 seed in the specialty race and will get the first selection for his opening-round opponent. The eight-car shootout features a big payout and bragging rights and also includes Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas, Brittany Force, Justin Ashley, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon and defending Callout winner Josh Hart.

“It gives me more confidence going into tomorrow,” Torrence said. “The car is performing like we want and we’ve got a good car right now. Those two runs are a product of the last [one to two] years coming to fruition. It gives my team confidence as well and it says a lot to be No. 1 [in the Callout]. In this field, you’ve got some of the toughest competition out there. This place was packed today and I look forward to putting on a show in front of these fans tomorrow.”