ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 14, 2022) – Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet dragster rocketed to the top of the Top Fuel class Friday night at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT dragster ran 3.804-seconds at 324.61 mph to put themselves in the No. 6 spot heading into Friday evening. Tuned by veteran crew chiefs Joe Barlam and Rahn Tobler, Prock handled the Montana Brand dragster to a stellar 3.682-second 334.57 mph pass to jump to the No. 1 spot. Their performance earned them three bonus points and a $15,000 bonus check part of the Texas Motorplex’s Stampede of Speed Friday Night Live. If it sticks through Saturday’s final two qualifying runs, it will be the first No. 1 of Prock’s career.
“I’ve dreamt of getting a No. 1 qualifier, so I hope it sticks. This Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster has been coming along since before Indy. It hasn’t really showed the last two weekends, but everything is still there. We just need to make the right adjustments and then you get a performance like this. We seem to be peaking at the right time. To get this $15,000 on top of it, just have to say thank you to Billy Meyer and the Texas Motorplex,” Prock said. “We have that fire under us again. We made a decent run in the first session, went sixth quick and then low this session. This is kind of how it went for us when we won in Reading [Pennsylvania], if we keep going up and down the track, you don’t want to race Joe Barlam and Rahn Tobler on Sunday.”
Funny Car fans enjoyed a record setting run by TSR driver Matt Hagan. Hagan’s run of 3.825 seconds at 334.85 mph knocked Bob Tasca III’s best run of 3.879 seconds at 328.66 mph off the top spot and out of the saddle.
“I want to say thank you to Billy and Christie Meyer Johnson because without them there was no money to win,” said Hagan. “I have been out here all week promoting this event to a PBR crowd and then the Stars Over Texas concert with Brett Young and Wade Bowen. It feels good to get the bonus after you have been camped out here. It is exciting to get in the car and get up on the wheel. You have your adrenaline going and you are chewing on your mouthpiece because there is money on the line.”
Robert Hight and the AAA Texas team were second quickest of the first qualifying session with their 3.924-second pass at 331.79 mph earning them two bonus points. With header flames lit, Hight handled his Chevy hot rod to a solid 3.854 at 333.43 to once again be second quickest of the session.
“Good day for this AAA team. We’re taking it one run at a time, these qualifying points are important, we want them every run. Two qualify runs today with two more tomorrow, we’ll stay consistent and just keeping doing what we know how to do,” Hight said. “Great show tonight, second year in a row with the Stampede of Speed and the extra money on the line for all the classes. Makes it exciting for the teams and for the fans. We won it last year, would have been nice to do it again but now we’re getting set for race day.”
Erica Enders, who is racing for her fifth Pro Stock world championship, ran to the top of a tough Pro Stock field moving around Elite Racing teammate Cristian Cuadra’s 6.533 second run out of the bonus money. Enders flew across the finish line and to the Provisional No. 1 spot with a 6.524 second run at 210.53 mph. She is chasing her fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and she was quickest of both sessions today collecting six bonus points in addition to the $7,500 Friday Night Live bonus check.
“When we saw Cristian go out there and run 6.53 seconds, we knew we could run right there with him,” said Enders. “I was surprised to hear over my radio from my crew chief that we were No. 1. The Stampede of Speed is so neat thanks to the Meyer family and the Texas Motorplex team. It is definitely fun and it adds a really cool environment up on the starting line and being able to run up there under the lights is not something Pro Stock gets to do very often. It makes for a very fun Friday night.”
Matt Smith, the reigning Texas NHRA Fall Nationals winner and five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion is racing for his sixth world title and holding off a tough field of motorcycle racers for the cash but missed out on the provisional pole. For the second year in a row Smith made the quickest run of the Friday Night Live session outrunning his wife and teammate Angie Smith for the $5,000 bonus check. Ironically, Smith’s run in the second qualifying session was quick enough for the bonus cash but only moved him up to No. 2 in the provisional qualifying with a 6.734 second at 203.58 mph run which was just behind provisional No. 1 Angelle Sampey’s run of 6.728 seconds at 202.05 mph.
Three-time world champ Sampey is halfway to her 58th career No. 1 qualifying spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle after her track-record-setting first-session 6.728 was not eclipsed in the evening session.
“We were we were very surprised [by the 6.72],” said Sampey. “When I came off the track, one of the NHRA guys gave me the numbers on his hands, and it didn't register in my brain because it was like that he's I think he said .82. And he did it again. I was like, ‘That's got to be an .82,” and then he said it out loud. When Andrew came down in the truck, I asked him what if he was mad at somebody, because he apparently is doing a really good job of tuning the bike.
“We did get to test on Wednesday, things went well for us. Of course, it didn't go as well as today, but we figured some things out. Thank goodness, we had a test session. So we were able to get a little bit farther going into today, a little momentum coming off of Wednesday. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't do a better job in the second round of qualifying. That was my fault because I double-clutched it.”
Competition at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex continues with qualifying Saturday at 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Eliminations for the event will start on Sunday at noon. Television coverage will be on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) Sunday starting with a qualifying show at 10:00 a.m. ET and eliminations at 10:30 p.m. ET.
See the recap by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor at nhra.com:
Texas NHRA FallNationals Friday photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:
Content: NHRA / Werner Communication / JFR PR
Photo: RPM / NHRA