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via Getty

via Getty

“A dramatic new leap for professional drag racing,” Alan Johnson, President of PRO, called the event, speaking about the new thing causing all the smoke in the community. Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock teams will compete during the inaugural PRO Superstar.

A massive purse of $250,000 is going to the Top Fuel and Funny Car winners, and a 125,000 dollar cash prize goes to the Pro Stock winner, while the total prize money goes beyond $1 million. While the event is not sanctioned by the NHRA, team owner and new PRO board member Tony Stewart said it’s a much-needed change for the sport to showcase its versatility, create that buzz, and display what drag racing is all about.

Tony Stewart: The PRO Shootout is a much-needed “curveball” for the sport of drag racing

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A historic moment in drag racing history took place this week with the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepower Garage at Bradenton Motorsports Park, Florida. Beyond its impressive payouts of more than $1.3 million in total prize money, the event is a much-needed curveball event for the sport of drag racing, as per Tony Stewart.

The event has a unique set of qualifying sessions, probably inspired by NASCAR, that keeps the fans on their toes, giving them plenty of entertainment while dropping the traditional bracket system, which is all the more predictable and manipulative. It brings in PPG, CAPCO Contractors, Lucas Oil, and FTI Performance as sponsors, bumping up the prize money to $250,000 to win in Top Fuel and Funny Car, $125,000 in Pro Stock, $50,000 in Top Sportsman, and $30,000 each in Super Stock Eliminator and Stock Eliminator.

As per Speedsport.com, Tony Stewart, a proud NHRA racer and team owner, said, “Why not do something big like this? We’ve seen other silos in motorsports (do similar exhibitions). And drag racing deserves a big, big, big event.” 

“(This) is just to create excitement, to create buzz, to show people what drag racing’s all about. This is an opportunity to introduce them to it before the season starts and to do something that’s never been done before,” added the 3-time Cup Seris champion, mentioning the weight behind the event and its promotion.

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With the organizers featuring an exclusive event just to showcase the ingenuity of drag racing, Tony Stewart believes this will have a considerable effect on drag racing events across the country, including the inconspicuous NHRA drag events that only attract hard-core fans.

Austin Prock stuns the field as he bags the cash prize

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Entering Sunday’s feature was Austin Prock in his debut Funny Car race for John Force Racing at the Florida drag strip. The racer crossed the finish line with flying colors, winning $250,000 in the finals of the SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout drag racing event. In the process, Prock even defeated Stewart’s NHRA driver Matt Hagan, making a winning pass of 3.845 seconds at 332.42 mph in his Cornwell Tools Chevy Camaro SS, while Hagan turned in a pass of 3.872 at 329.75.

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Even 16-time Funny Car champion John Force came in to praise the young racer with a noteworthy tweet. In his social media post, he lauded Prock and his team, consisting of his father and brother: “Anytime you win, it’s a great day. To see the young Austin Prock working with his dad and brother and being able to win the PRO Superstar Funny Car Shootout shows you they can deliver! Great job, kid.”

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Besides Austin Prock, Doug Kalitta won $250,000, while female drag racing legend Erica Enders earned $125,000 for her win on Saturday. Now that Tony Stewart has joined the organization as its new board member, the sport is certain to grow out of its shell and attract more racing fans around the globe.