ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 15, 2022) – Austin Prock in the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet dragster earned his first career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.
Already sitting No. 1 after his 3.682-second pass at 334.57 mph from Friday night, Austin Prock and the Montana Brand Rocky Mountain Twist team followed up on Saturday with two solid runs. In the afternoon, Prock would handle the Montana Brand dragster to a 3.862-seconds and 334.57 mph before coming out in the final session to run 3.780 at 324.58.
“I wasn’t for sure we were going to keep the top spot. I know what Brittany and David Grubnic are capable of and they came swinging for us in that last session,” Prock said. “I’m glad to keep No. 1 spot, hopefully in translates to a good day on Sunday. We could use a good day, go some rounds. We’re off to a good start. We went down the track all four runs, the last time we did that was in Reading when we won. This team never quits. Everybody kept their head down and kept working for the same common goal of competing for wins. All the parts and pieces are here and when we make the right decisions, we’re right the. We have to keep making those smart decisions tomorrow and if I drive well, we’re going to turn on some win lights.”
Prock’s stablemate, Brittany Force, had the best run of both sessions with passes of 3.745 and 3.698 to back up her Friday best of 3.689, but will finish third behind Clay Millican’s 3.685.
The top eight is rounded out by Antron Brown (3.693), Mike Salinas (3.699), Steve Torrence (3.700), Doug Kalitta (3.712), and Leah Pruett (3.731).
Alex Laughlin sits on the bump spot of a pretty quick field with a 3.870, ahead of four drivers to failed to make the tough cut, and will face off against Prock in round one.
Points leader Justin Ashley had a rough go in qualifying and finished 10th and will not have lane choice for his first-round race with Kalitta. Force, meanwhile, will face Buddy Hull while Millican draws Kebin Kinsley, who made the field on his final qualifying attempt as a fill-in driver in Dexter Tuttle’s dragster.
Matt Hagan counted on his Friday run of 3.879 was not seriously challenged on Saturday. Hagan’s Dickie Venables-tuned Dodge Power Brokers Charger made two steady passes in Sunday’s heat, running 3.900 and 3.893, and was among the fastest three in all four qualifying sessions this weekend, including two session-leading passes.
"We've had four really good runs out there and, you know, it's hard to do when you're in a Funny Car," said Hagan. "I mean, you put nitro in the tank, and you never know what's gonna happen. But honestly, just the way Dickie's got this card dialed in this weekend, and the way the cars reacting and driving and just handling, it's just, been great.
"It's just, it's such a cool feeling, you know, to be able to do that, and to go out there with that expectation of doing that, then it comes together. So just shows you what Dickie and the crew and the guys are capable of when the conditions in the track's there."
Robert Hight and the AAA Texas Chevy kept up their consistency Saturday afternoon laying down a 3.930-second pass at 331.35 mph that earned them a bonus point for being third quickest. In the final session, the Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car stayed on point with a 3.910-second pass at 325.78 mph. Hight is locked into the No. 2 spot to race Jack Wyatt in the first round.
“This AAA Texas Chevy team is consistent. We’re picking up some points but there’s more out there. Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham, they’ll find it, we’ll pick it up a bit and be good tomorrow,” Hight said. “I love racing here in Texas and I’m hoping we can put on a good show for the fans tomorrow. We’re in the points lead but we aren’t getting comfortable, we know there’s still a lot of work ahead of us and this AAA team is up to it.”
After a clutch malfunction Friday night, Force came into Saturday sitting in the No. 6 spot. He’d have a solid run in the PEAK Chevy in the third qualifying session going 3.912-seconds at 333.11 mph to be second quickest of the session and earn two bonus points. In their final qualifying try, the PEAK Chevy would stumble losing traction before Force had to shut it off. Force will start race day from the No. 6 position to face longtime rival Cruz Pedregon in the first round.
“Good qualifying for this PEAK Chevy. We would have been quicker the first run today, it shot a spark plug out,” said Force. “I just have to do my job as a driver on the starting line. This PEAK team, they’re learning and we’re fast. Tomorrow is where it’s really important for the championship and I’m still in it with this PEAK Chevrolet.”
Defending event winner and reigning world champ Ron Capps sits third with a 3.865 but only made it down the track on two of his four passes while Bob Tasca III, who had the best run of the final session at 3.882 also made four three-second passes with a best of 3.879.
Blake Alexander (3.905), John Force (3.907), J.R. Todd (3.908), and Tim Wilkerson (3.920) round out the quick eight. Twelve drivers qualified in the fours with additional three-second efforts clocked by Chad Green (3.940), Paul Lee (3.947), Cruz Pedregon (3.966), and Alexis DeJoria (3.976).
Erica Enders swept the maximum points available in qualifying her Melling/Elite Performance Camaro making the quickest run in all four sessions and grabbing the No. 1 spot for the fifth time this season. Enders’ final pass was just another beatdown on the field as her 6.578 was almost two-hundredths quicker than the next-quickest driver, Aaron Stanfield, who has had the second-best car through all four sessions. Her run of record for her 28th career No. 1 spot was the 6.523 she recorded Friday night.
"Today's weather is significantly different than yesterday, obviously hotter and a lot wetter. and that's something that our cars don't necessarily appreciate, so to be able to go out there on a tricky racetrack and to go low of the session first round was pretty cool," said Enders.
"The second run was kind of pretty substantial because it just was awesome. I mean, a super, super hot track that was really slick. The car kind of washed out from underneath me a little bit right before the one-two gear change, but when they radioed .57 over my helmet radio is pretty stoked. Tomorrow is going to be a new day, I think the highest like 75 with a lot of chances of the r-word, but we're gonna motor through it and see if we can finish it out. It might be a long day but I'm excited about it. To be on the No. 1 spot to get those 12 bonus points, then going into the No. 1 spot is an additional eight, so that's a full round of racing in normal situations. So that's huge."
Behind Stanfield’s second-ranked 6.529 are two more of their Elite teammates, Cristian Cuadra (6.533) and Troy Coughlin Jr. (6.545). The top eight is rounded out by four KB Racing-powered cars: Kyle Koretsky (6.552), Greg Anderson (6.553), Deric Kramer (6.555), and Matt Hartford (6.566).
Reigning rookie of the year Dallas Glenn recorded the first DNQ performance of his career playing a strategy game for KB Racing that failed to develop as anticipated.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Angelle Sampey held the number 1 position from her first run on Friday. After watching Matt Smith post a dazzling 6.76 in the heat of the day of Q4, Sampey and her Vance & Hines Mission Suzuki team stunned everyone with a 6.759 to back up her Q1 speed..
"That [6.75] was a really good run for us," she said. "I'm pretty sure it was as solid as the 72, considering the weather conditions were worse. We have the motorcycle to win the race, as we always do every weekend, I just hope and pray that my team has the rider to win the race.
"The competition makes it pretty tough. It's fierce out here these days, just getting past first round is always a task, and if you can go all four rounds on Sunday, you're usually mentally exhausted at the end of the day. I'm hoping that the weather can stay clear for us. I know my team is ready for a win. I know Eddie [Krawiec, teammate] is wanting one as well., so he'll be the one trying to knock down my door. But it's going to be also Matt and Angie [Smith] and everybody else trying to stop us. I'm just going to try to keep my head straight, have a good time, enjoy the day, and look forward to putting that [symbolic winner] cowboy hat on my head at the end of the day. for the first time."
Behind Sampey and Smith’s 6.728 are a clutch of riders trying to chase down Smith’s points lead: Joey Gladstone (6.793), Angie Smith (6.793), Steve Johnson (6.793), Hector Arana Jr. (6.808), Eddie Krawiec (6.815), and Marc Ingwersen (6.826)
Sampey will open Sunday against Ryan Oehler while Smith will have a tough draw in national record holder Karen Stoffer.
Eliminations at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex continues eliminations on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. 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 full recap by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor at nhra.com:
Texas NHRA FallNationals Saturday photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:
Content: JFR PR / NHRA
Photo: RPM / NHRA
#NHRA #FallNationals #DragRacing #TopQualifiers #Texas #TexasMotorplex #Ennis #AngelleSampey #EricaEnders #MattHagan #AustinProck #Saturday #StampedeOfSpeed