Leaving the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals championship contender Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster team will take the positives from three days of racing in a variety of conditions on a quick and fast track to the final race of the season. Hart and his team fell victim to one of the longest oil downs of the season prior to their Friday night qualifying session. The entire category lost a chance to make a qualifying run with excellent conditions following an oil down by Funny Car driver Blake Alexander that had the NHRA Safety Safari on track cleaning and prepping for over an hour. Ultimately, the Top Fuel class and NHRA decided darkness and continued tricky track conditions in the left lane would prohibit them from concluding a quality run. Hart looked back at that missed opportunity as a precursor to a tough weekend.
“We really had a great tune-up for those cool nighttime conditions, and we didn’t get a shot to get on the track. None of the Top Fuel teams were able to get data but for our team, which has only been racing together for three seasons, it was a tough hit,” said Hart. “We made some good runs on Saturday, but conditions changed dramatically overnight, and we had to throw caution to the wind in the first round.”
As the No. 11 qualifier Hart faced the No. 4 qualifier two-time Top Fuel champion Brittany Force. Hart’s quickest qualifying time of 3.815 seconds was just a tick off Force’s 3.762 second best effort. With cooler temperatures Hart felt he had a racecar that could give Force a close race. He was first off the starting line and that advantage held up for almost the entire length of the track. At over 330 mph Force just got the front wing of her dragster to the stripe first, winning by less than three feet. Hart’s reaction time of .046 combined with his quickest run of the weekend, a 3.758 second pass, came up just short of Force’s .105 reaction time and 3.694 second run. Force’s run was the second quickest run of the entire event.
“That was a close, close race,” said Hart. “I am going to put this behind me but also remember that we were right there and it was just one of those things. You can look at a lot of little things that didn’t go our way, but I am going to focus on how our team pulled together and we had a great race car today. I always want to thank R+L Carriers for their support. I am blessed to be able to be out here. I was able to talk with a lot of fans about exciting opportunities with R+L Carriers and that is a big win this weekend.”
With one race left in the regular season before the points reset Hart sits in the No. 10 spot. Each round at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals will be worth 30 points so Hart knows getting a win at the biggest race of the season, a race he has won in Top Alcohol Dragster, can catapult him up the standings. Hart is eager to get back in the seat of his 330-mph land rocket.
“We have a very competitive race car and I am getting better on the tree,” said Hart. “That is the combination you want going into Indy and the Countdown. We will clinch our spot for the playoffs in a couple weeks and then all I will be focused on is seeing win lights and spending time with the fans.”
The Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals will be contested August 30 – September 4 at Lucas Oil Raceway. The race will be televised though out the weekend and on Labor Day Monday on FS1 and FOX.