Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team will be rolling into the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals hoping the third time’s the charm when it comes to securing their elusive first four-wide national title. The past two years Hart has raced to the final quad at zMax Dragway and as recently as two weeks ago the owner of Burnyzz Speed Shop in Ocala, Florida, reached the final quad at the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals. Hart and his Top Fuel team have yet to see the third win light on Sunday of the unique race. He has started from the top half of the field in each of the past two four-wide races and has never started a race in Charlotte from the bottom half.
“I enjoy racing at zMax Dragway and we have had some success there,” said Hart, who won his second career Top Fuel title at the Fall NHRA national event in 2021. “It has been a while since we turned on three or four win lights there to get that Wally trophy and I feel like we have a team that can compete for wins every weekend. We haven’t gotten off to the kind of start I wanted to this season, but we made progress in Pomona and Las Vegas.”
Hart burst onto the scene in 2021 racing a partial schedule, winning his first Top Fuel race as well as the Charlotte Countdown race in addition to nearly half a dozen semifinal finishes. Last year Hart raced to two final rounds, but a third win eluded the driver who took on the full schedule with a young team and a brand new 12,000-horsepower R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster. The learning curve was steep, but Hart was undeterred and finished the season No. 7 in the world in Top Fuel.
“We didn’t perform last season as well as I was hoping but we learned a ton,” said Hart, who is also a multi-national event winner in Top Alcohol Dragster. “We had a new car and that was the most Top Fuel races I ever raced in one season. I basically doubled my experience in Top Fuel last year. This season we knew what to expect but the competition was also ready for us. We aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year.”
At the season opening NHRA Gatornationals Hart won the Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout event and its $80,000 top prize. It was a great start for Hart and the R+L Carriers team. Unfortunately, Hart’s Sunday performance was lackluster by his own admission and the following two races challenged Hart and the rest of his team.
“I messed up in the first round of the Gatornationals and then we battled gremlins at the Arizona Nationals after that,” said Hart. “We made some progress at the Winternationals and I think we got back on track in Las Vegas racing to that final quad. I feel good coming to Charlotte about my driving and the race car. Ron Douglas is the best and I wouldn’t trade my crew for anyone else in the pits.”
The two-time Top Fuel winner won’t be the only Hart competing this weekend. His two-year-old daughter Helen will be racing in the historic five-wide Baby Walker Nationals. The race will be contested before the final round of nitro qualifying on Saturday and will pit the offspring of elite pro drivers astride upgraded vehicles for a highly anticipated sequel featuring five-across racing the event dubbed “Tykes on Trikes.” The special event was created and produced by Natalie Torrence of Innovative Creation Experts and sponsored by Mark Beatty and the folks at Red Line Synthetic Motor Oil will once again be a crowd pleaser and fun diversion for Hart.
“This event is a lot of fun and I have to thank Natalie for coming up with the idea and including Helen,” said Hart. “I am not sure who will get the bragging rights, but I know all the parents will be super proud of the effort.”
Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team will get four qualifying rounds spread out over Friday and Saturday affording the team one pass in each lane of potential competition. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will go head-to-head-to-head-to-head on Sunday in three rounds of eliminations. The race will be broadcast nationally on FS1 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. ET and will begin at noon ET at zMax Dragway.