Last year Josh Hart made his Arizona debut at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park racing his R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster to the semifinals. The third year pro is looking to add two more win lights to his Sunday this year and win the final NHRA Arizona Nationals Wally. The Ocala, Florida racer and business owner is off to a hot start so far in 2023 winning the Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout two weeks ago at the NHRA Gatornationals. The $80,000 winner-take-all payday in front of his hometown fans and family was a great momentum builder for the season and Hart’s R+L Carriers team.
“We saw the first big money win light of the season on Saturday of the Gatornationals winning the Pep Boys Allstar Callout and I talked about how great the win was but also how this sport will humble you very quickly,” said Hart, who also won his first career Top Fuel race in 2021 at Gainesville Raceway. “We celebrated on Saturday with our team and lots of our staff from Burnyzz Speed Shop. Then we got serious for Sunday. Ron Douglas and my guys gave me an amazing race car and I didn’t take advantage of it.”
On Sunday morning racing in the first pair of Top Fuel dragsters Hart was second off the line against eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher and his race day was over in spite of making his quickest pass of the weekend. Hart’s R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster crossed the finish line 3.693 seconds after it left the starting line at a career best speed of 335.40 mph. It was a disappointing end to a magical weekend to start the season. At the end of the day Hart reflected on the high of winning the Pep Boys Callout with the low of not advancing further on race day.
“I talked about how this sport will humble you in less than a second,” said Hart. “I am not sure what happened on the starting line, but it was not up to my personal standards. I told my guys I will do better and then I put it behind me. You can’t dwell on your mistakes, you have to learn from them and move on. I am excited to get back to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. I wish this race was the Monday after the Gatornationals.”
Last year Hart qualified No. 8 and raced past Leah Pruett and Rob Passey before dropping a semifinal race to veteran Clay Millican. The first-time experience of racing in the desert was a great learning opportunity for Hart. He spent time with new fans and made laps at a brand new facility. This year Hart will be taking that experience and build on it heading into this weekend’s race.
“Last year we were racing for the first time at a lot of tracks,” said Hart. “It was a huge deal but there was a level of uncertainty that I don’t have this season. I think we will be better prepared and ready to take our first win of the season. We are racing against the best drivers in the world and there is no doubt I feel like I belong. Qualifying starts on Friday night and we are going to come out with a winning attitude.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Arizona Nationals will begin on Friday night for Hart and the R+L Carriers team with one session followed by two qualifying sessions on Saturday. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will battle for the Wally starting at 11:00 a.m. local time with the race being televised on FS1.