And Austin Prock Makes Four At John Force Racing

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 10 2022

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock rounds out the John Force Racing lineup in 2022. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

The return of Austin Prock fulltime in Top Fuel highlights John Force Racing’s expanded, four-car lineup for the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season heading into PRO Nitro Spring Training today in Chandler, Ariz.

NHRA’s 2019 Rookie of the Year with JFR, Prock will wheel his dragster led by co-crew chiefs Joe Barlam and Rahn Tobler. The deal reunites Prock with his sponsors from 2019, when the third-generation driver won his first career NHRA national event at the Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash., near Seattle. That victory allowed Prock to join a list of only 10 previous rookies to win during their first season.

Prock also became only the 13th rookie to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs en route to an eighth-place point finish. The 25-year-old son of veteran JFR crew chief Jimmy Prock, Austin capped the pre-COVID 2019 campaign by winning NHRA’s Auto Club Road to the Future Award as its top rookie.

Unexpected circumstances have limited Prock to three Top Fuel starts since November 2019. Prock drove in two races to start the 2020 season before team-owner John Force shut down all of his organization’s on-track operations due to the pandemic.

Prock, who landed a one-off ride in place of Clay Millican at Norwalk, Ohio, last season, is understandably amped about again being gainfully employed.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Prock, grandson of pioneer Funny Car driver/tuner Tom Prock. “I’ve sat out for two years, but the rust will come out quick. It’s like riding a bike. At Phoenix, it’s about getting more comfortable, just getting everything ironed-out so we can go out there Q1 (in the opener) and go low ET. This (car) is going to be in contention for wins every weekend.”

Tobler tuned Ron Capps’ Dodge Charger to the 2016 NHRA Funny Car world championship in 2016 at Don Schumacher Racing. Tobler, who exited DSR after 11 seasons following the 2020 campaign, was enticed to come out of retirement and assist a family friend.

“I thought, ‘How cool would it be to race with Austin?’ I’ve known him forever,” said Tobler, 66. “I’ve known Jimmy for a long time. We’re very good friends on and off the track. I just thought it was a great fit.”

JFR’s returning fulltime roster features multiple NHRA Funny Car world champions John Force and Robert Hight along with 2017 Top Fuel world champ Brittany Force.

“We ended the 2021 season in a good spot,” said John Force, owner/CEO of JFR and a 16-time NHRA Funny Car world champ. “We had teams in contention for the championship and anytime that happens, as a team-owner, it’s always good.

“We’re going to start 2022 with momentum and back to being a four-car team. Having Austin Prock back in the Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist dragster with Joe Barlam and Rahn Tobler, it’s going to have a positive impact on the whole team. It’s not going to be easy, but the teams we have will be willing to put in the work to make great things happen.

“We’re going after race wins and championships _ that’s what we’re always going after. We have the people, the partners and the parts to make it happen.”

JFR is among the NHRA tour regulars scheduled to participate in preseason testing starting today through Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Arizona. The 2022 NHRA season will open with the 62nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Feb. 18-20 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.

The 2022 season will be the 47th on the NHRA tour for 72-year-old John Force. John’s Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car will be tuned by Danny Hood, Force’s son-in-law, with Tim Fabrisi as assistant. Both were key players in John’s historic 150th and 151st national event wins in 2019. The duo also guided “Brute” Force to three wins in 2021 for a record total of 154 victories.

Crew chief David Grubnic and assistant Mac Savage will continue to tune Brittany Force’s dragster. Force wrapped up 2021 second in the point standings to four-time/reigning world champion Steve Torrence. In the process, Brit posted a win alongside her father in Topeka, Kan., and secured a career-best 12 No. 1 qualifiers.

Hight, the president of JFR and a three-time Funny Car world champion, again will drive a Chevrolet Camaro SS tuned by crew chiefs Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham. That trio tallied two victories and two pole positions while finishing the 2021 season eighth in points.


Veteran crew chief/tuning guru Alan Johnson is among key additions to the championship-winning brain trust at Kalitta Motosports as it preps for the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Crew chiefs Johnson, Brian Husen and Jason McCulloch will guide the Top Fuel dragster teams. That threesome will work with team-owner/crew chief/drag racing icon Conrad “Connie” Kalitta and current crew chiefs Kurt Elliot and Ronnie Thompson on the cars driven by Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon.

The Toyota GR Supra Funny Car again will be driven by J.R. Todd and tuned by Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer.

Johnson and Husen will lead the tuning efforts with Thompson on Doug Kalitta’s Top Fuel dragster. McCulloch will work alongside Elliot on the Top Fuel dragster for Langdon with Connie Kalitta, 83, making the final tuning decisions.

“Our goal every year at Kalitta Motorsports is to win the NHRA world championship in Top Fuel and Funny Car,” said Chad Head, general manager of Kalitta Motorsports. “Bringing Alan, Brian and Jason onto our Top Fuel teams led by Connie with Kurt and Ronnie puts us in an excellent position to do that. All three of these guys are world championship-winning crew chiefs and we feel this gives us an amazing collection of talent in a very competitive Top Fuel category. The stability of the DHL Funny Car team led by Todd and Jon is another big plus for this team.”

Johnson has tuned some of drag racing’s biggest names to dozens of wins and multiple world championships over the past three decades. He is recognized as one of the greatest Top Fuel “minds” in the history of the sport.

“It’s exciting to be able to come over and work with Connie Kalitta and his team,” said Johnson, whose Top Fuel clients have included four-time/reigning world champion Steve Torrence and 2017 world champ Brittany Force. “Connie has an iconic Top Fuel team. We’re looking forward to putting our experience together with their operation to go out and win the championship.”

Johnson will be joined on the Top Fuel team by Husen. The duo led Brit Force to her Top Fuel world title and more recently tuned owner/driver Mike Salinas to multiple wins and championship contention during the past three seasons.

“I have been fortunate to work with some pretty good drivers and have success with all of them,” said Husen, a native of Michigan. “It’s exciting to come work with Doug because he is such a good driver.”

The addition of McCulloch to the Top Fuel program gives Langdon’s tuning leadership team of Kalitta and Elliot another veteran presence. McCulloch is joining a team that his father _ Top Fuel and Funny Car legend Ed “The Ace” McCulloch _ worked with at the start of his career.

“The opportunity to come and work with Connie, who is an icon in the sport, is something I could not pass up,” McCulloch said. “My dad worked at Connie’s and he had nothing but good things to say about him. To work with a driver of the caliber of Shawn Langdon and be part of the organization that is working to get Doug Kalitta his first championship is awesome. Working with Alan, Brian and Chad is familiar territory for me.”


Test sessions hosted by the Professional Racing Organization beginning today in Arizona will be closed to the public until Saturday, when fans who have purchased tickets to the NHRA Arizona Nationals will have the opportunity to purchase single-day tickets. Fans may add-on test session tickets to their Arizona Nationals order online or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-6472 if Nationals tickets previously have been purchased.

Newly added testers include Funny Car drivers Alexis DeJoria, Chad Green, Alex Miladinovich and Gary Densham. Top Fuel competitors will be led by four-time/reigning world champion Steve Torrence, Josh Hart, Clay Millican, Buddy Hull and Tripp Tatum.

Reigning Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson also will be on-site, joined by Matt Hartford and Kyle Koretsky. The new total of participants is over 30 of NHRA’s top drivers, many sorting out new race cars featuring new sponsors.

Previously confirmed drivers include two-time/reigning Funny Car world champion Ron Capps in his new role as team-owner/driver of Ron Capps Motorsports. Kalitta Motorsports will be represented by Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel and J.R. Todd in his new Toyota GR Supra Funny Car.

First-year Tony Stewart Racing drivers Matt Hagan, a three-time Funny Car world champ, and Top Fuel teammate Leah Pruett also will be gearing-up for 2022.

Also booked to test are eight-time Top Fuel world champ Tony Schumacher in his fulltime return to the series, three-time Top Fuel world champ Antron Brown, Mike Salinas, Doug Foley, Jim Maroney and Justin Ashley. Testing Funny Cars will two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca III and Paul Lee. Pro Stock driver Dallas Glenn, NHRA’s 2021 Rookie of the Year, will be joined by Deric Kramer and Kenny Delco in the Factory Hot Rod class. 

Teams will make runs throughout each day, with final passes scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Most drivers are planning at least one run on Saturday. For additional information visit https://racewildhorse.com/.



Feb. 17-20 _ Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 25-27 _ NHRA Arizona Nationals, Chandler, Ariz.

March 10-13 _ *AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 1-3 _ NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas

April 22-24 _ Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil, Baytown, Texas

April 29-May 1 _ NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Concord, N.C.

May 13-15 _ Virginia NHRA Nationals, Richmond

June 3-5 _ NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

June 17-19 _ NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

June 23-26 _ Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio

July 15-17 _ Dodge//SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Morrison, Colo.

July 22-24 _ NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma, Calif.

July 29-31 _ Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals, Kent, Wash.

Aug. 12-14_ Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor, Topeka, Kan.

Aug. 18-21 _ Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.

Aug. 31-Sept. 5 _ *Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis


Sept. 15-18 _ Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Reading, Pa.

Sept. 23-25 _ NHRA Carolina Nationals, Concord, N.C.

Sept. 30-Oct. 2 _ NHRA Midwest Nationals, Madison, Ill.

Oct. 13-16 _Texas NHRA FallNationals, Ennis, Texas 

Oct. 27-30 _ Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Las Vegas

Nov. 10-13 _ Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

*NHRA Allstar Shootout

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients has included Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 10 2022
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