Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster team moved from Denver to Seattle for the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals this weekend looking to build on his quarterfinal finish from last week. The 2023 Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout winner was returning to Pacific Raceways for the second time in his professional career. Through three rounds of qualifying Hart made two consistent passes and in the final session his R+L Carriers overpowered the track sending the rising Top Fuel star into eliminations as the No. 11 qualifier. His quickest run during qualifying was during the first pass on Saturday and he posted a 3.820 second run at 319.67 mph.
“We had three shots in qualifying and coming down from the mountain it took us a couple of runs to get squared away,” said Hart, who has two national event wins. “It was a little warm and our first run on Saturday was something we knew we could build on. The final session of qualifying we just missed it but (crew chief) Ron (Douglas) knew we could throw more at the track on race day.”
On race day Hart drew four-time world champion Steve Torrence in a No. 11 versus No. 4 qualifier battle. The fellow independent team owners and drivers have a mountain of respect for each other but that was put to the side when the helmets went on to start the Northwest Nationals. As the Christmas Tree fired Hart was first off the line and was side by side with Torrence as both dragsters flew down the track. As the finish line closed in Torrence was able to get the nose of his Capco Contractors dragster out in front of Hart’s R+L Carriers 12,000-horsepower land rocket.
As Hart and Torrence crossed the finish line the win light came on for Torrence and Hart was left with the satisfaction of a well-run race. His R+L Carriers Top Fuel machine made its quickest run of the weekend and showed the team it truly has the power to compete, posting a 3.750 second pass at a whopping 331.12 mph time.
“Ron threw everything at the track and we really stepped up with a 3.75 second pass,” said Hart. “The biggest positive is we have a race car that can run with anyone. We just need to get one or two favorable match-ups. These R+L Carriers guys are working really hard and this weekend showed we can battle and keep our heads up.”
As the final race of the Western Swing loom next weekend at Sonoma Raceway Hart will look to that event as the beginning of his push to prepare for the Countdown. Four races stand between the championship contender and moving up in the Top Fuel point standings.
“This weekend we had a lot of R+L Carriers guests in our hospitality and we will have a good group in Sonoma,” said Hart. “Our job is to win rounds but we want to make sure our guests enjoy the experience. I was able to talk with a lot of guests all weekend and that helps with the sting of a short weekend. I am chasing my dream out here and we have a ton of support. We are going to go after it in Sonoma.”
Hart and the rest of the Top Fuel class will be on track on Friday with two qualifying sessions followed by two more qualifying sessions on Saturday. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will battle it out on Sunday with the race being broadcast on FOX nationally.