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Prock, Millican, Enders and Smith get Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge victories

Rod Mullins
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(© Derek Yegan – Shutterstock)

In a thrilling rematch of last weekend’s Funny Car final, points leader Austin Prock defeated John Force in the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge bonus race and also qualified No. 1 on Saturday at the 23rd annual Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, held at Bristol Dragway in front of a near-capacity crowd.

Winners in other categories of the specialty race included Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle). Millican, Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Smith also secured No. 1 qualifying spots at the eighth race of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

Prock’s final run clocked in at 4.049 seconds at 312.57 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro, edging out Force’s 4.033 at 315.27 on a holeshot. This win was especially sweet for Prock, who lost to Force in last weekend’s championship round at Epping. Prock also secured his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season with Friday’s 3.958 at 317.34 and will face John Smith in the opening eliminations.

“That’s exactly how you dream it up—to race again in the final and see if I can get it back,” Prock said. “We achieved that today and it was another outstanding day for this team. I love those earlier starts. Racing John is always fun and challenging; beating him shows you’re on top of your game.”

Alexis DeJoria and Ron Capps took the second and third spots in Funny Car qualifying, respectively, with DeJoria clocking a 3.973 at 319.90 and Capps a 3.976 at 320.74.

In Top Fuel, Clay Millican had a stellar day, winning the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge for the first time with a 3.839 at 302.41 in his 11,000-horsepower Parts Plus/Rick Ware Racing dragster. Millican’s Friday run of 3.786 at 325.06 also secured him the No. 1 qualifying position for the first time this season. He will start eliminations against Cam Ferre.

“This is absolutely awesome,” Millican said. “We’re chasing points aggressively this year. Winning today is huge for us, and I’m grateful for Mission Foods for their support. Racing one of the best, like Shawn Langdon, and winning makes it even sweeter.”

Justin Ashley and Antron Brown qualified second and third in Top Fuel, with times of 3.795 at 322.42 and 3.809 at 321.27, respectively.

In Pro Stock, Erica Enders continued her dominance in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, winning her third event of the season with a 6.644 at 207.30 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment car. Enders defeated Dallas Glenn in the final round and looks poised for her 50th national event victory on Sunday.

Greg Anderson delivered an impressive 6.615 at 205.38 to take the No. 1 qualifier spot in Pro Stock, his second of the season and 126th of his career. Anderson is seeking his third win this season and first at Bristol in 20 years.

“You never quite know if you’ve got it all, but today I think we did,” Anderson said. “The competition is fierce, so outrunning them by a couple of hundredths is a significant advantage. I’m thrilled and hope to carry this momentum into tomorrow.”

Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr. rounded out the top three in Pro Stock qualifying, with times of 6.631 at 206.92 and 6.639 at 206.45, respectively.

Matt Smith had a standout day in Pro Stock Motorcycle, taking the No. 1 qualifier and his first Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge win of the season. Smith set track records with a 6.759 at 200.05, the first 200-mph run at Bristol Dragway in this category. He will face Ryan Oehler in the opening eliminations.

“I didn’t think a .75 was possible, but we nailed it,” Smith said. “My team did an excellent job, and I’m excited about our chances tomorrow.”

Richard Gadson and Chase Van Sant took the second and third qualifying spots, respectively. Points leader Gaige Herrera, currently fourth, aims to tie Bob Glidden’s record for consecutive wins and round wins on Sunday.

Eliminations for the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday at Bristol Dragway.

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins covers NASCAR for AFP, and co-hosts the mid-week “Street Knowledge” focusing on NASCAR with AFP editor Chris Graham. A graduate of UVA-Wise, Rod began his career in journalism as a reporter for The Cumberland Times, later became the program director/news director/on-air morning show host for WNVA in Norton, Va., and in the early 1990s served as the sports information director at UVA-Wise and was the radio “Voice of the Highland Cavaliers” for football and basketball for seven seasons. In 1995, Rod transitioned to public education, where he has worked as a high school English, literature, and creative writing teacher and now serves as a school program coordinator in addition to serving as a mentor for the robotics team.