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Josh Hart Prepared for Possible Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout Defense

At the conclusion of the 2023 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team held down the No. 10 spot in the standings for the 2024 Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout. As the reigning champion the multi-time Top Fuel national event winner knew he would not have a chance to defend his title in 2024, but circumstances changed on a variety of fronts that have opened the door for the Ocala, Florida based team owner and driver to participate in the big money race.

Top Fuel qualifier Austin Prock switched to Funny Car for the 2024 season and will not be eligible to compete, moving Shawn Langdon from the No. 9 position into the top eight and moving Hart into the No. 9 spot as the first alternate. During the 2023 PRI Show, Tony Stewart Racing announced Tony Stewart would take over the driving duties in the TSR Top Fuel dragster entry from Leah Pruett, who was No. 6 in the Pep Boy All-Star Callout. The announcement did not address the specialty race during the NHRA Gatornationals, but yesterday TSR announced the possibility of Pruett not competing in the All-Star Callout if Stewart was not solidly qualified following the two sessions on Friday of the Gatornationals.

“I would love the opportunity to defend my 2023 win in the Pep Boys All-Star Callout this year,” said Hart. “Some things are out of my control, but we can help ourselves by making great qualifying runs on Friday and setting ourselves up for the possibility of competing in the big money race on Saturday. I have always said, ‘Anything’s Possible,’ and we will be ready if that opportunity presents itself.”
 
In 2023, Hart was the No. 8 qualifier and raced his way through Austin Prock, Brittany Force, and Mike Salinas to secure the $80,000 top prize. The win was the highlight of the season for Hart and the R+L Carrier Top Fuel team that also raced to a final round in Chicago and finished in the Top Fuel Top Ten.

“This R+L Carriers team didn’t see the results we wanted last season, but we never gave up and we finished the season with some big round wins,” said Hart, the 2021 Gatornationals Top Fuel winner. “We had a good test session in Bradenton, and we are looking forward to starting the season at our home track with a strong performance. Whether we get into the Pep Boys All-Star Callout or not our goal will be to win the Gatornationals again.”
 
Hart and the R+L Carriers team will be on track Friday March 8 for two qualifying sessions. Prior to Friday’s qualifying runs Hart is hosting the 2nd annual Gatornationals FanFest at Burnyzz Speed Shop on Wednesday, March 6. The free family-friendly event will have a massive car show, food trucks, music and a driver autograph session featuring all the top names competing in the NHRA Gatornationals as well as many former Gatornationals winners. The event will run from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

This story was originally published on February 15, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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