Reading, PA (September 18th, 2022)
There hasn't been a tremendous amount of people who are fortunate enough to refer to themselves as the winner of an NHRA National event. In 2019 at Seattle, Austin Prock claimed that title himself, NHRA Winner. Later that season, another accolade, the 2019 Rookie of The Year.
It's been three seasons since Prock won that day. He's been on a mission to remind people that he is, in fact, a winner in the NHRA Camping World Series. Unlike many other racers who may experience lengthy or even career defining losing streaks, Austin wasn't a driver who was responsible for his own loss. As a result of Covid-19's financial impact on our world's economy, Austin's sponsors Montana Brand and Rocky Mountain Twist were forced to suspend their relationship with motorsports until another time.
Prock discussed with Racing Refresh earlier this month regarding the emotions that he dealt with over the last two seasons.
"It was awesome. Then to get it pulled out from underneath of me because of the pandemic, it hurt. I was living my dream as a professional race car driver and it only lasted a year and a couple of races. Having to take a step back was tough, but we make the best out of it. I've learned a lot more about the race car and I'm great friends with my sponsor Frank."
Heading into the end of the regular season and into the Countdown for the Championship, Prock was also asked to recap the highs that he's experienced, most notably his big win at Seattle.
"I actually have a really good memory of every race I've competed in. I remember waking up in Seattle and you had a good feeling that it was going to be a good day. I can remember every round who I raced, I even know the reaction times. This is what I love to do."
We observed Prock several times through the week of the US Nationals in Indianapolis working in a much more hands-on style than other professional drivers in the NHRA. He was assisting teams mix fluids, move parts, tune his motor, and more. The fans took no loss, he was happy to fulfill his entertainment and media roles as well. "This is what I love to do. I'm at the shop every day, I'm still building the cars. I still help build the superchargers. This is my life, I'll remember a lot of it." Prock said regarding his work ethic.
That work ethic paid off this afternoon in Reading Pennsylvania. Along with Joey Gladstone, Erica Enders, and JFR teammate Robert Hight, Austin won the Pep Boys Nationals for his second career win and first of the 2022 season.
“It’s awesome and we’re right back in the hunt of this thing,” said Prock, who became the ninth different winner in Top Fuel this year. “If you come out and win Reading, you’re right back in it. This is unbelievable and it was just one of those days where everything was going our way. I’m so proud of this team and thank you to John Force for giving me the opportunity. This was exactly what we needed. -
Prock defeated Justin Ashley with his 3.755-second lap at 327.90 mph at Maple Grove Raceway on Sunday in the final round.
Video Courtesy NHRA.tv
“We came into the Countdown sitting 12th, and if we wanted to play for the big trophy, we knew we had to win this weekend. Everybody kept their heads down and still believed in themselves, and that attitude is how you win a Wally. I was really proud to win four rounds; it was the first time in a long time that I've been able to do that on Sunday. It's super cool that we came out on the good side of a close race.”
Prior to the week a press conference with regular season champions was held and many of the drivers were asked about the additional drivers who were added into the 2022 Countdown To The Championship. There wasn't a driver involved who discredited their competition, including Prock. For any of his critics, Austin Prock carried his Montana Brands dragster to the best result all weekend. In a lengthy past of icons, he just might be the underdog the NHRA's fans have been craving.