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Josh Hart Races to Quarterfinals at New England Nationals

Looking to improve on their first two appearances at the NHRA New England Nationals Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster team rolled into race day at New England Dragway determined and focused. After two days of qualifying, which saw Hart post a quick elapsed time of 3.783 seconds on a hot racetrack on Saturday and land the third year pro No. 11 on the qualifying sheet. Hart’s second run on Saturday was a 3.882 second pass that was one of the quickest of the session giving the multi-time Top Fuel national event winner confidence heading into race day.

“When the temperatures went up today, we took advantage of that,” said Hart, on his team’s ability to handle a hotter track. “My crew chief Ron Douglas and the guys did a great job on a tricky track, and we are set up for Sunday. It will be hot again and if we can make runs like that we should be in good shape. This is a great event and I want to thank all the fans that sold out the race today.”
 
Hart and points leader Justin Ashley, the No. 6 qualifier, rolled up for a head-to-head between the two best “leavers” in the Top Fuel category. Hart and Ashley are consistently the two quickest drivers with reaction times and the first round race was a master-class on getting off the starting line. Ashley was off first with a .032 second reaction time and Hart was right there with him at .054. The R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster stayed glued to the track for a 3.848 second pass, Hart’s quickest of the weekend, and the win.
 
“That was big for our team,” said Hart. “We have been working too hard to not see win lights. We stepped up in the heat and got a win light. Justin is a tough competitor. We have four races in the next five weeks so getting some momentum is a great way to start the month.”
 
In the quarter-finals Hart drew Tony Schumacher, the winningest Top Fuel driver, trying to race into to the semifinals and a berth in the Mission #2Fast#2Tasty Challenge. The duo squared off at the season opening Gatornationals with Hart getting the win in March. Today Hart was first off the starting line with a .048 second reaction time but his 12,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster overpowered the track at the 100-ft mark and Schumacher cruised to the win.
 
“We might have gotten a little aggressive, but this was our best effort at the New England Nationals,” said Hart. “The points are very tight, so getting to the quarterfinals is a nice effort. We will be back on track in Bristol nest weekend so we will learn from this race and get better for the Thunder valley Nationals.”
 
Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster will be on track next Friday for the Super Grip Thunder Valley Nationals from Bristol Dragway. The race will be broadcast on FS1.

This story was originally published on June 3, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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