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Josh Hart Ready for Return to New England Nationals

One of the busiest months of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series is getting started this weekend with the NHRA New England Nationals from historic New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team will return to the northeast for the third time looking to turn their fortunes around. With four races in five weeks Hart and his crew are looking to build momentum going into the second half of the NHRA regular season.

“We haven’t seen the results we wanted so far this season, but I know (crew chief) Ron Douglas and the crew have a plan for this weekend,” said Hart, a multi-time Top Fuel national event winner. “The good news is we have qualified well at New England we just haven’t executed on race day in the past two years. I think we are in a good place to turn those race day results around.”

In Hart’s previous two races at New England Dragway he has qualified No. 4 and No. 5 but he failed to advance out of the first round. Two years ago a significant motor failure off the starting line ended Hart’s race day and last year rain forced the postponement and relocation of the race to Bristol. It has been anything but business as usual for Hart and the R+L Carriers team in New England.

“The first time we raced there were had some solid qualifying runs and then on Sunday we had one of the biggest boomers of my career right off the starting line,” said Hart. “Last year we only made a couple runs and I was one of the drivers advocating to get out of town since the weather was so bad. This year the forecast is looking good and I am ready for four solid qualifying runs and a long race day.”

The schedule for Hart and the rest of the tough Top Fuel class will be conducted under what looks to be prime racing conditions for quick and fast runs. On Friday and Saturday, the weather could be sunny with temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. These types of conditions with the New England Dragway all concrete racing surface could set up the opportunity for record runs. Hart isn’t focused on records he is looking for consistency over four qualifying runs.

“We don’t need to make hero runs in cool weather,” said Hart. “We are focused on getting the most out of the track and our tune up so we can go into race day with as much information as possible. My crew chief Ron Douglas has been working on fine tuning our tune up and we are seeing progress. Four runs in qualifying will be a big help for us.”

Hart is looking for this stretch of races to be the opportunity to make a move up the point standings. Starting this weekend in Epping, then heading to Bristol, Tennessee the next weekend followed by races in Virginia and Ohio to close out the last two weeks of June Hart and the R+L Carriers team can nearly double the season count of passes in the next 30 days. That kind of schedule also keeps his team in a racing groove.

“This section of the season will be critical to our championship plans,” said Hart. “We are in a group of quality drivers at the bottom end of the Top Ten standings. We want to be solidly in the Top Ten heading into July and then continue to improve as the regular season wraps up. I have a ton of confidence in this team and we will start to make some progress this weekend.”

Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team will be on track on Friday, May 31 at 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET with two more qualifying runs scheduled for Saturday, June 1, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. ET. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will start eliminations on Sunday June 2, at 11 a.m. ET with the race being broadcast nationally on FS1.

This story was originally published on May 29, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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