weather icon Clear

Rookie Funny Car racer brings momentum to Las Vegas Motor Speedway

NHRA’s Austin Prock is used to his offseasons being “a little wild.”

He said there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with looking to secure funding and sponsorship for his Top Fuel ride.

This past offseason was shaping up to be similar. Prock lost some funding for his Top Fuel car for John Force Racing.

Then a ride on the Funny Car side of John Force Racing opened up before the season when driver Robert Hight III announced he was stepping away to due a health issue. The spot went to Prock, who had never competed in a Funny Car event before this season.

Now he’s in town this week for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Qualifying is Friday and Saturday and elimination races are Sunday.

“I kind of fell into a pot of gold essentially,” Prock said.

Prock is off to a strong start his first Funny Car season.

He won Sunday at Firebird Motorsports Park in Arizona. He’s second in the point standings, two points behind leader J.R. Todd.

“The racecar has been running really good and hopefully we can keep our momentum going throughout the whole year and try and make a run at the championship,” Prock said. “This car is definitely capable and I feel like I’m capable as long as I keep learning.”

Prock picked up his Funny Car driving license in 2018 but had never raced a Funny Car in an NHRA event before this season.

The 2019 Top Fuel rookie of the year made the transition look seamless at a preseason event in February. Prock won the PRO Superstar Shootout in Bradenton, Florida.

“I didn’t have any success during testing and as soon as qualifying started, the thing turned around and ended up winning my first ever Funny Car race,” Prock said. “We’ve been showing the same success on the NHRA circuit.”

Prock has a pair of familiar faces working on his car. His father, Jimmy, is the crew chief and his brother Thomas also works on the team.

“It’s definitely comforting,” Prock said. “I’ve grown up watching my dad have a lot of success in this sport and it’s pretty cool to be behind the wheel of this caliber car. It’s going good.”

Prock said he’s leaned on Hight, a three-time Funny Car champion, for help as he makes the transition. Prock talked with Hight before his win in Arizona, asking for advice on lining up the car.

“From the outside looking in, you could say we’ve made (the transition) look easy, but it definitely hasn’t been easy,” Prock said. “You don’t get very many opportunities to go up and down the racetrack, so you have to be a sponge every time you sit in the car.”

Top Fuel points leader Shawn Langdon is also riding into Las Vegas with momentum after winning two of the first three races of the season. Langdon’s win at the opener in Gainesville, Florida, in March was his first since 2020.

“We had a couple of rough years by our standings,” Langdon said. “We felt like we should have been more competitive. It’s been good to see changes that you made pay dividends in such an early part of the season.”

One of those changes was bringing in a new crew chief. Langdon is now working with Brian Husen, who was an assistant crew chief when Langdon won the 2013 Top Fuel championship.

“We couldn’t have asked for any better start than we have,” Langdon said. “We’re leading the points and won two of the first three races. With all the changes we’ve made, the car is running well.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.