Austin Prock will start the NHRA season driving a John Force Racing Funny Car instead of his Top Fuel dragster as Robert Hight tends to undisclosed personal medical matters.
The move was announced on Tuesday and said to be temporary. Hight, a three-time Funny Car champion, plans to return to the seat of his Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet.
“I have to put my health first,” said Hight, who is also the president of John Force Racing. “Once this is resolved, I’ll be back. I’ll be looking forward to racing again, I’m a competitor and can’t wait to get back to doing what I love. I know Austin will do a great job in my place for Cornwell Tools, AAA, Chevy and all of the John Force Racing sponsors. I have no doubt he’ll win races.”
Hight was the runner-up in the Funny Car championship last season to Matt Hagan after winning four races and earning seven No. 1 qualifiers. It was the second consecutive season Hight finished second in the championship standings.
Prock comes off a season where he earned one win (Charlotte), two No. 1 qualifiers, and finished eighth in the championship standings. The shift to Funny Car will be new for Prock, and he’ll make his debut in the class during the SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout next month at Bradenton Motosports Park.
But not only will Prock drive a Funny Car, he will do so with his family. Jimmy Prock, Austin’s father and Thomas Prock, his brother, are crew chiefs on Hight’s car.
“First off, all the best wishes to Robert and his health,” Prock said. “It’s been a dream of mine to drive a Funny Car with my family, but this is not the way I hoped it would happen. It’s bittersweet.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and thankful to John and all of our partners, especially Cornwell Tools, AAA, and Chevy for giving me a chance to fill this seat. It’s a huge role to fill considering how outstanding of a driver Robert is and how successful this team is. It’s been a whirlwind of an offseason so I’m just ready to get back to racing.”
The NHRA season begins in Gainesville, Florida on March 10.