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Josh Hart Eyes Continued Success at Winternationals

After a busy first race of the season that saw his team host a massive Fanfest at Burnyzz Speed Shop in Ocala in advance of the historic Gatornationals followed by racing in the Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout for the second year in a row and a quarterfinal finish in the race Josh Hart is ready to focus on more round wins at this weekend’s NHRA Winternationals. Bringing the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team to the West Coast is always a daunting task but Hart enjoys the location and the history of the famed racing facility in Southern California.

“There is a lot of history at this track and the Winternationals,” said Hart, a multi-time NHRA Top Fuel national event winner. “We start the season at two of the most famous facilities in our sport and I have won the Gatornationals so I would love to drive this R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster into the winner’s circle in Pomona this weekend. The team is moving in the right direction and we are getting more runs and data which is what we need.”

The month of March Hart is also focusing attention on his hometown of Huntington, Indiana through a challenge donation led by his wife Brittanie to give back to the community in a big way, through the “Race to Fill the Food Pantry” campaign. Donations made to the United with Love food pantry during the month of March will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000. Already donations have come in from races, fans and members of the Huntington community.

“We are so grateful to the Hart family, Brittanie, Josh, and their children for supporting our pantry in nourishing our neighbors. In 2023 we had over 8,950 individual visits to our food pantry and we cannot do this alone. This matching donation is critical at this time of the year when donations are down, but the need is unchanged,” said Erin Didion, Executive Director, United with Love of Huntington County.

Every dollar donated will make a difference. Donations can be made by cash or check at the food pantry, mailed to 715 Byron Street, Huntington, IN 46750 or online at https://www.osvhub.com/…/race-to-fill-the-food-pantry . United With Love partners with neighbors to address the barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Their longstanding goal is to lovingly serve all their Huntington and surrounding community neighbors in need and provide stability through Christ-centered services that meet individual needs.

At the end of last season Hart’s R+L Carriers team led by crew chief Ron Douglas was making positive strides after an up and down 2023 season. The infusion of new parts made a big difference that is continuing to pay off at the start of the season. In Gainesville Hart qualified No. 12 but got the upset win over No. 5 qualifier 8-time champion Tony Schumacher to start the season with a win light. It was the second consecutive win over Schumacher and gave Hart a 3-2 career head-to-head record.

“You have to get up for everyone in this class and I truly just focus on doing my job on the starting line,” said Hart. “You have to respect drivers like Schumacher because they have so much experience. I am racing in Top Fuel to take on the best of the best and we want to perform at our highest level when the stakes are high. There are so many talented teams and drivers there are no easy round wins.”

In Hart’s short career he has proven to be a worthy adversary, winning multiple Top Fuel national events and the 2023 Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout. He finished in the Top Ten last year with a solid end of season performance but simply finishing in the Top Ten is not a primary goal for Hart. The entrepreneur from Florida is building a team for championship runs and more Top Fuel wins.

“This whole team has a very positive attitude, and we understand what our goals are. We want to perform on the track for our sponsors and the fans and we want to represent our sponsors very well off the track,” said Hart. “It was great to host so many R+L Carriers guests in the pits and that gets everyone fired up to perform. Having new fans come to the race and get behind the scenes experience is a big plus. Having them see us win rounds on Sunday is huge too. This weekend is going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get on the track.”

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The R+L Carriers team and Josh Hart will get one qualifying run on Friday, March 22, followed by two more qualifying runs on Saturday. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will get to race for the Wally trophy and a specially designed Winternationals snowflake medallion from Indianapolis-based artist and fabricator Katie Buttera. The race will be broadcast nationally on Sunday night on FS1.

This story was originally published on March 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.