BRADENTON, Fla. — Austin Prock in his Funny Car debut raced to victory at the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, at Bradenton Motorsports Park, on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Reigning Top Fuel world champion Doug Kalitta and six-time Pro Stock world champion and winningest woman in history Erica Enders also picked up wins worth $250,000 and $125,000, respectively.
The sportsman classes at the PRO Superstar Shootout also raced for big payouts, with Darian Boesch (FTI Performance Top Sportsman), Matt Dadas (Super Stock), and Monty Bogan Jr. (Stock Eliminator) collecting checks for $50,000 (Top Sportsman) and $30,000 (Super Stock and Stock Eliminator).
In the Funny Car final round, Prock put together a run of 3.845-seconds at 332.42 mph in his Cornwell Tools Chevy Camaro SS to defeat defending world champion Matt Hagan, who ran a 3.872 at 329.75. Prock, who was also the No. 1 qualifier and collected a $10,000 bonus award from Lucas Oil Friday night during the chip draw session, received a payday of $250,000.
“I can’t even put it into words. It’s like I said, it still doesn’t even feel real,” said Prock. “This team is just so exceptional and I was just happy to not mess it up for them. This is a championship-caliber team and a race-winning team, and I just had to hang on to the wheel and make sure I got the data for them and we did that today. This win is huge. I had a quote before we came in here that if I ended up winning my first ever race and it was the PRO Superstar Shootout it would be legendary and I guess we did that today.”
Hagan had the starting line advantage, but Prock chased him down for the win in the finals. Prock defeated Alexis DeJoria in round one and then his teammate John Force in round two, conquering the early rounds with the starting line advantage.
Doug Kalitta picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2023 season. Kalitta powered his Applied Innovation Top Fuel dragster to claim the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Top Fuel title. Kalitta threw down a 3.706 at 325.14, while final-round opponent Clay Millican slowed to a 4.22 at 196.39.
“The first thing that I thought of when we won this thing was how proud Don Schumacher would be of the PRO group putting this together,” said Kalitta. “We’ve never really seen this kind of money and the whole deal was it was pretty cool. I know a lot of people worked real hard to make this happen.”
Kalitta’s crew chief and PRO President, Alan Johnson, was just as excited for the win that shows that backed up their championship season.
“It’s really great for Doug but it’s also great for these crew guys who worked all winter long to maintain this thing because there’s some things we had to change,” said Johnson. “We’re going to a different chassis. There are things we had to change to be able to come out at the first event and run well and win. It is just a testament to how good a job they did over the winter.”
Kalitta had the starting line advantage in the finals, never trailing for the win and the $250,000 check. Millican started to lose traction and clicked off his Top Fuel dragster. Justin Ashley had the starting line advantage over Kalitta in the first round, but lost traction. Kalitta pedaled his car for the win. He then used a 3.709 at 330.63 to take down Leah Pruett’s 3.941 in the semifinals.
Erica Enders put together a memorable weekend in Pro Stock at the PRO Superstar Shootout, making a clean sweep at Bradenton Motorsports Park with her victory over Dave Connolly in the final round. The reigning world champion bested Connolly with a 6.531 at 210.05 in her JHG/SCAG/Melling Camaro. Connolly recorded a 6.577 at 208.81 in the runner-up effort.
“Dave [Connolly] and I have a lot of history and that final round, I’d be lying if I told you my heart rate wasn’t a little bit higher than normal,” said Enders. “I called my dad before that final round, and I’m like, ‘Alright, help me with my with my neuro program.’ I had to disregard the emotion behind it because I just want to knock their teeth out, but I just have to go out there and do what we do best. I know I have the best guys in the business standing behind me and it’s a group that I can trust and I cannot emphasize that enough. That means the world to me, but that pressure right there, I’d put it up against a world championship because of who was in the other lane.”
On Friday night, Enders qualified in the No. 1 position in the final qualifying session of the event after struggling throughout qualifying. The throwdown run set a positive tone for Saturday eliminations at an event supported by her Elite Motorsports team’s key partners.
“To have the partners that we have with JHG and SCAG – they dove in headfirst and supported this race, not just our race cars, but this entire event and the sense of pride that I feel having partners that believe in what we believe in it, you can’t compare it,” Enders said.
Before collecting the $125,000 check in the final round, Enders also defeated teammates David Cuadra, Aaron Stanfield, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the first three rounds.
Rather than head home early, the drivers who didn’t qualify in Top Fuel and Funny Car participated in the Top Fuel vs. Funny Car Shootout with the Don Schumacher Nitro Superstar Award and a $10,000 bonus from Red Line Oil up for grabs. The format paired up Top Fuel dragsters versus Funny Cars in the first round, with the quickest of each returning for the final round. A two-tenths staggered tree in favor of the Funny Cars evened the playing field.
Recent first-time Funny Car winner Chad Green and four-time Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence coincidentally were the quickest in the first round when they faced each other, so they came back for a rematch in the final round. Green was first to the finish line both times in his Bond-Coat ‘23 Ford Mustang. He cut a .064 reaction time to Torrence’s .186, then laid down a 3.977 at 318.17 to finish ahead of the CAPCO Contractors dragster’s 3.729 at 333.41.
Kenner, Louisiana-based driver Darian Boesch took home the big prize in Saturday’s Top Sportsman category after qualifying second in the class’s 28-car field. Boesch had an impressive .002 final-round reaction time in his supercharged Haas-built ’18 Camaro, running 6.285 at 220.91 on a 6.27 dial-in. Boesch took down Sandy Wilkins in the finals, who had a .024 reaction time and ran a 6.490 at 201.61 on a 6.47 dial-in.
On Boesch’s road to the winner’s circle, he also took down Brian Heath, Chris Arnold, Mark Buehring, and Brandon Miller.
Driving for car owner Bo Butner, Matt Dadas delivered a huge Super Stock victory for the past Pro Stock world champion when he defeated Jeff Adkinson in the final round. With a $30,000 check on the line,
Dadas was first off the starting line with his .014 reaction time to Adkinson’s .039 before running a 9.532 at 136.91 on a 9.53 dial-in in Butner’s FSS/K ‘12 Ford Mustang. Adkinson, in his FSS/F ‘15 Camaro, recorded a 9.29 at 132.18 on a 9.28 dial-in. Making the win even more memorable was the fact Dadas had never driven the car before the weekend and was tapped to drive less than an hour before qualifying began.