Austin Prock celebrates his third Wally of the season in Virginia. (NHRA Photo)

Prock On Force: ‘We Wanted To Get It Done For Him’

Adversity hit Austin Prock and John Force Racing on Sunday during the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals.

While a Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge victory on Saturday was a plus, conditions on the race track were treacherous the following day.

With scorching-hot temperatures, Prock and his team adjusted and tuned their John Force Racing Funny Car to the best of their abilities. It paid off when Prock eliminated Cruz Pedregon in the first round. 

However, what became the biggest story of the day at the Dinwiddie, Va., track was Prock’s team owner and teammate, John Force.

Force endured a serious accident during the first round, which saw his Funny Car’s engine explode upon reaching the finish line, which led to the car slapping the retaining walls on both sides of the drag strip before coming to a rest several hundred feet later.

The 16-time champion was examined by the NHRA Medical Team and transported to a local intensive care unit. Force was alert following the accident.

Just before the ambulance drove off, a distraught Prock attempted to describe the moment.

“He’s one tough son of a bitch, I know that. He’ll be back,” Prock said on the FOX broadcast as a tear rolled down his face. “It’s just tough to see somebody go through that.”

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Austin Prock won in Funny Car on Sunday in Richmond. (NHRA Photo)

How does a driver climb back into an 11,000-horsepower Funny Car after witnessing a mentor, friend and teammate endure a life-threatening accident?

For Prock, self-motivation was the key to re-igniting the fire within him.

“We wanted to get it done for him. But, I almost felt like I was feeling the pressure early on in the day,” Prock admitted. “I drove (a) terrible second and third round. 

“Just tried to tell myself, ‘Pull your s— together dude. Like, come on, let’s go get it done.’ This team’s busting their tail out in this heat and I don’t want to be the weak link and I wanted to get it done for John and we all did.”

Sure enough, the 28-year-old Funny Car rookie pushed the mental doubt away.

After a second-round win over three-time champion Ron Capps, defending Funny Car champ Matt Hagan awaited Prock with a berth to the finals at stake.

While Hagan got the better of Prock at the tree (.068 reaction time compared to Prock’s .090), Prock gathered his stealth-black Cornwell Tools-sponsored Funny Car up and beat Hagan with a 316.97 mph run. 

Prock saved his best for last as the sun began to set. Rain had halted action for more than an hour before eliminations were completed. 

Knocking down a .049 reaction time, Prock silenced his doubts for good with the fastest run of the weekend at 3.921 seconds and 327.90 mph to defeat Bob Tasca III.

“I got my stuff together in the final round there and we made a really nice run, and I finally hit the tree,” Prock said. “That was definitely a good feeling and good way to roll out of here for sure.”

It was Prock’s third win of the season and his second straight, dating back to Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway two weeks ago. He holds a commanding 131-point advantage in the standings. 

“I wanted to make John proud and I hope he is,” Prock said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

SPEED SPORT will provide updates on Force when they become available.