From the onset of Funny Car qualifying, John Force staked its claim at the top of the Funny Car leaderboard. First, the boss, John Force, and then the freshman flopper phenom Austin Prock, made things right with his crew after apologizing for a mistake on the first run. 

Prock was joined as a provisional leader by defending NHRA champions Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock).

It’s too bad Prock has already used up his Rookie of the Year status on a lesser Top Fuel season than he’s experiencing in the first season of driving a Funny Car. 

Prock went to the top in the second session with a 3.837 elapsed time at 336.23 miles per hour. 

Prock, who stands second in points, can claim his fifth No. 1 qualifier in the season’s first seven races. 

“It’s surreal just holding on to the wheel,” Prock said. “Kudos to my dad [Jimmy] and brother [Thomas]. They’re making really smart decisions, and it’s really impressive watching them work. They’ve been in the right spot at right time and we’re getting the job done.

“I got a little John Force in me. I never know where I’m at. On the first run, I didn’t have it staged shallow, and it cost me the top spot. I had to walk back to the trailer with my tail between legs. It was so bad my dad could see it. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I apologized on the radio, but on the second run, they bailed me out with a 3.83 with a really good mph.”

Force finished the day second with a run of 3.865 at 333.16, and J.R. Todd is in third after the first two qualifying sessions, going 3.865 at 327.74.

Kalitta appears to be set on defending his Top Fuel title and, with a 3.700 elapsed time at 332.84 mph alongside Steve Torrence, who was second, Torrence took the second spot with a strong 3.702 at 335.23. If the run holds, it will be his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 56th in his career. New England Dragway is also the only track on the NHRA tour where Kalitta hasn’t won.

“I was really confident and real hopeful,” Kalitta said. “The car left good and smooth and really happy once I figured we got the quick time. This track is on my radar [as the last one] to get to a final and finally get a win. 

“This is last on the list, and the history here is incredible, and the area around this place is fantastic. Hats off to Alan Johnson, Mac Savage, and all the guys working on this thing. The Toyota guys have been helping us with the track, and I can’t thank them enough. All our cars ran well that session.”

Brittany Force, who did not qualify at the most recent event in Chicago, jumped to third with a 3.715 at a track-record 335.57.

Enders, who has won twice at New England Dragway, put herself in a good position for a third by running 6.488 seconds at 211.79 miles per hour. If it holds, Enders would pick up her third top spot of 2024, as Enders was the only driver to reach the 6.40s on Friday. Enders is still searching for her 50th career national event victory, which she’s been chasing for a handful of events. 

“Well, my guys have really been studying up and have been working hard this past week and put their heads together,” Enders said. “We’re running our race car just a little bit differently. Earlier in that session, the starting line wasn’t there, but the air was. We thought we could go .49, then with the sundown and cooler track temps, we thought we could get after it a little bit more, and we threw a .48 on the board. I love racing up here in Epping, and I’m just really grateful and having fun again.

“When I let go of clutch the wheels were up and that makes you think you’re on a run. Then you’ve just got to keep it in groove and hit all your shifts, and I was able to do that. I could tell it was good when my guys were excited on the radio.”

Troy Coughlin Jr. is currently second thanks to a 6.510, 211.46, while points leader Dallas Glenn is third after going 6.529, 210.57.

Qualifying continues at 12 p.m. on Saturday at the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.