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Josh Hart Starts Swing With Denver Quarterfinal Finish

The first race of the three race Western Swing concluded today at picturesque Bandimere Speedway with Josh Hart racing the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster to the quarterfinals at the final edition of the Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals. Through two days of qualifying Hart laid down consistently quick runs setting up his team for success on race day. The tricky conditions and tough competition had Hart positioned as the No. 10 qualifier and first round race with No. 7 qualifier Leah Pruett.

Hart and his Ron Douglas-tuned 12,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster opened race day with an exciting race that was decided on the starting line with Hart grabbing a reaction time advantage of .023 to .036 seconds. That slim difference gave Hart the edge at the finish line with both Top Fuel dragsters recording identical elapsed times of 3.905 seconds. The upset win moved Hart into the quarterfinals and another tough race against perennial championship contender Doug Kalitta.
“I knew I had to be at the top of my game in the first round,” said Hart, who is one of the categories stronger drivers off the starting line. “We were first pair up which Ron loves and I knew we would have a fresh race track. It was warmer than qualifying so I was ready for anything. We were side by side for the whole race and I was thrilled to see that win light.”
In the quarterfinals facing Kalitta the third-year pro was looking to race into the semis and clinch another spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. When the tree flashed amber Hart and Kalitta launched, and it was another tight race as both dragsters were welded together. Unfortunately, Hart lost a little momentum as the finish line approached as his motor began chewing up parts and robbing the Pep Boys All-Star Callout champion of much needed horsepower. Kalitta took the win with an elapsed time of 3.860 seconds in front of Hart’s 3.878 second run.
“We won a close race in the first round and lost a close race in the second round,” said Hart. “We are ready to get to Seattle and try and go more rounds at Pacific Raceway. This is a beautiful facility and we’ll be headed to another great track in Seattle. This is a tough three race stretch but I think we are in a good position to make a move in  the points and turn on more win lights.”
The R+L Carriers Top Fuel team will be back on track at Pacific Raceway for the Northwest Nationals, July 21-23, in Kent, Washington.

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

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