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Josh Hart Looking to Land First Win of 2023 in Brainerd

Josh Hart knows he has a race car and team that can win and the two-time Top Fuel national event winner is looking towards the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals as his next opportunity to prove his point. The driver and team owner from Ocala, Florida, opened the season with a big money win in the Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout and since then he has raced to one final round and three additional semifinals. The standout former Top Alcohol Dragster driver is ready to get some momentum going as the NHRA regular winds down.

“I go into every race expecting and preparing to win. Everyone on this R+L Carriers team has that attitude, and we have the experience,” said Hart. “We haven’t been able to get all the piece to come together for a whole weekend. We have run well in qualifying and then we stub our toes on race day. We have had a great car on race day, but we get a bad match-up in the first or second round. I feel like we have lost to the eventual winner the past three or four races it seems like.”

For his efforts Hart has held his spot in the Top Ten. With two more regular season races left on the schedule, a strong showing at this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals and then the Dodge U.S. Nationals with points and a half on the line will lock him into the NHRA Countdown. He is sitting in ninth place in the point standings but a move to fifth or better is not out of the question.

“There are a lot of teams packed in the middle to back of the Top Ten and we know we can get on a run and move up,” said Hart. “I want to get as high in the Top Ten points as possible and then make the most of the six races in the Countdown. I believe we can win from anywhere but going into the Countdown higher in the points would be ideal.”

Hart started his career racing a limited schedule and turned heads winning twice and consistently racing to the semifinals in his rookie season. Last year the entrepreneur invested heavily in his team with more parts and new trailers and took on the entire season for the first time. It was a Herculean effort for an independent team and now tackling his second full season Hart has a better understanding of what it takes to compete against the best teams in the world. There is no quit in his attitude and no one on the R+L Carriers team is discouraged.

“We have never been more focused than we are right now,” said Hart. “My crew chief Ron Douglas is putting everything into the tune-up and working with the guys on the crew. I have dedicated myself to improving my reaction times and I am seeing very positive results. We have a killer combination we just need to string together four win lights on a race day. I am so blessed to be able to come out almost every weekend and race and spend time with the fans. I am never going to take that for granted.”

During the rain delay last weekend Hart saw a handful of fans patiently waiting out the rain and he signed two rods and a blower belt for the young fans in the group. On Friday he joined NHRA announcer Jason Logan on the NHRA stage in the middle of the pits to engage fans in a light-hearted question and answer session. He participated in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge autograph session on Saturday thanks to his Sonoma Nationals semifinal finish. The continual fan interaction events have seen Hart’s popularity on the NHRA tour grow with every passing national event.

“I started out as a fan and a sportsman racer,” said Hart. “I worked my way up through the ranks and I have invested a lot of my own money and time into competing at the highest level. I know when I see fans waiting in the rain or watching us work on the car in 100 plus degree weather, I have to give them a little attention and I am happy to do it. We have some of the best fans in the world and I appreciate all the words of encouragement we have gotten all season.”

Hart will continue to listen to the cheers ramp up again this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway with two qualifying sessions on Friday followed by two qualifying sessions on Saturday. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragster will battle it out for the iconic Wally trophy on Sunday starting at 11 a.m. CT. The race will be televised on FOX nationally.

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This story was originally published on August 16, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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