Story By: SARA SLAUGHTER / JOHN FORCE RACING – POMONA, CA – Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet dragster team rallied to their second win of the season Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.
With a standout Countdown to the Championship performance that included two wins in three final rounds, Prock will finish the season third in points after entering from the No. 11 spot.
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team won the 2022 Camping World Top Fuel world championship en route to a semifinal finish. Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro SS will finish the season No. 2 and John Force and his PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro SS will wrap up the season in the No. 5 after they both had a second-round exit.
Austin Prock started his day with a victory over veteran race Shawn Langdon. Prock would have a clean pass of 3.711-seconds and 329.34 mph while Langdon would smoke the tires for a 7.377 at 87.80. In the second round, Prock would stay consistent with a. 3.704-second pass at 329.18 to end Leah Pruett’s day after she went 3.721 at 324.20. With the win, Prock would line the Montana Brand dragster up with teammate Brittany Force in the semifinals.
Prock would pilot his Joe Barlam and Rahn Tobler tuned dragster to stout 3.642-second pass at 335.48 mph to send newly crowned Top Fuel world champion Force and her solid 3.676 at 337.58 mph home in an exciting side-by-side duel. Poised to take on three-time champion Antron Brown in the finals, Prock and the Montana Brand team would stay on point with another blistering run of 3.641-seconds at 336.23 mph to take the win over Brown’s 3.701 at 320.74. The run would be a career-best and mark Prock’s third national event win of his career.
“I’m so happy for Rahn Tobler who is retiring this year. I’ve had a blast working with him. He’s an absolute legend in the sport and to go out like he did tonight speaks volumes for what he’s done for the sport,” Prock said. “That was the quickest run he’s ever made in history and it was his last one. Then during the semifinals, we were the quickest side-by-side run ever. I’m really proud of Rahn and I still get butterflies when I watch him roll him into the staging beams. He’s accomplished so much in the sport and he believes in me to drive his race car. He came out of retirement to come work with me and that means a lot to me. It gives me a lot of confidence and I’m glad we went out on top with him.”
Having solidified her second Top Fuel world championship with her 3.701-second pass at 334.90 mph to defeat Steve Chrisman’s 4.794 at 176.53 in the first round, Brittany Force would handle the Monster Energy hot rod to 3.687 seconds at 337.58 mph to send Clay Millican and his 3.864 at 283.97 home in the second round. With the win, Force would meet teammate Austin Prock in the semifinals. Force would have a stout 3.676-second pass at 337.58 mph but it wouldn’t be enough for Prock’s 3.642 at 335.48.
“This season has been outstanding for this Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team. Coming into 2022 I said it would be one of the toughest years of competition. We did really well all season long. Had the top spot, lost for a little but then gained it back but then heading into the Countdown, this thing we’ve been preparing for all season long, we struggled, and it just felt like that championship we had worked so hard for was slipping away from us,” Force said. “We turned it around, kept ourselves in the top bunch and then really made a move with a win in Vegas and then coming here to Pomona, we gained points in qualifying, enough that we would have enough of a lead to get the job done with a win in the first round. It was a strong season start to finish. Very proud that my teammate Austin Prock was able to get the win here today, happy we get to share the winner’s circle with him.”
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevy entered race day form the No. 4 position with a 56-point lead over his closest challenger, Ron Capps. Hight would pick-up up a first-round win with a 3.872-second pass at 330.47 mph bettering Chad Green’s 3.914 at 327.82. With only Capps still in contention with him after the first round, Hight and the Auto Club Chevy would have a rare mishap smoking the tires for only a 6.292 at 110.92 while Bob Tasca III would manage a 4.262 at 224.96. Capps would go onto runner-up closing the book on Hight’s 2022 championship chances.
“It’s a tough way to go out. We had a great season. This Auto Club team, they worked hard all season long. We weren’t happy with our performance last year, and we set out to change it, and we did,” Hight said. “We knew it was going to come down to Pomona, we knew we’d need at least seven or eight wins, we knew we needed eight perfect runs this weekend. We came up short but that doesn’t take away from the amazing season we had, if anything, it motivates us even more to do even better next season. This team has it in them, they know how to get the job done and now we just hope the off-season goes by quickly.”
John Force and the PEAK Chevy picked-up a first-round victory over Blake Alexander when he went 3.919-second s at 317.49 mph while Alexander smoked the tires for a 5.548 at 128.71. Force’s 2022 season would come to an explosive end in the second round when after an engine failure blasted the body off. Force would cross the finish line at 6.495 and 70.93 while eventual event winner Cruz Pedregon would have a clean 3.876 at 330.96.
“What a season, what a final weekend. Brittany got the job done with that Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team and Austin capping it off with a win for Montana Brand. Robert, No. 2, I know he’s not happy with that but what a season they’ve had,” Force said. “We all finished top five, that’s impressive. Did we want to go more rounds today, yeah, but it wasn’t in the cards. I know that second round was pretty spectacular but for the wrong reasons. We’ll just pull it all together for next year.”
The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season will begin with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway March 9-12.