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Josh Hart Takes Positives from Fast Start in 2023, Looking Forward to 2024

Top Fuel driver and entrepreneur Josh Hart started the 2023 season with a win at the Pep Boys Allstar Callout race, collecting the largest payday of the season for his R+L Carriers team. Over the next ten months Hart competed valiantly but never broke through for another win. He maintained his position in the Top Ten when the season concluded on the strength of strong finishes at the Nevada Nationals and the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals in Pomona. As Hart turns his attention to refocusing his team on another championship chase in 2024 the two-time Top Fuel winner reflected on the past season.

You started the 2023 season on the highest of highs and then it became a real battle to make consistent progress. Besides the Pep Boys Callout win what was the biggest positive of your season?

“What overall stands out as a positive is the fact that the R+L Carriers team continued to grind and prepare and work well together. Even through the hard times when we didn’t have the season that we wanted we never went negative. It was impressive, you know, you never saw any flare ups or any type of different emotions. The whole team kept the same chemistry and we all kept working towards the same goal.”

Winning that Pep Boys All Star Callout at your home track racing the best of the best, that had to be really satisfying, right?
“Winning is always the best feeling and that’s why we do it. Once you get a taste of it, you can’t get enough so, you know, we keep slaving away and keep trying and grinding and just doing whatever you can to try to get back to that spot. I tasted success so early in my career so it’s hard to be at the bottom of the barrel. We had to fight to get into the Top Ten and punch into the Top Ten. I was proud about that. When you really reflect and look at it objectively, we went a couple of rounds further than some other guys and that’s not us, you know, so we need to improve on our consistency and our round wins.”
You picked up some significant round wins in the Countdown that had championship implications for other teams. Do you take that as a badge of honor that those were big round wins?
“I look at every round the same, you know, we’re obviously trying to do whatever we can do to win no matter who we are beside. We just want to advance to the next round. Did some wins have championship implications? Yes. Was there more pressure on me? No, because we weren’t in contention. So ultimately, we were trying to control what we could control and at that time. All I felt like I could control were my reaction times and my own performance. It paid off a little bit at the end of the season.”
Your reactions times were something that has been a focus for you this season. You were one of the best leavers. How do you work on that and how significant was that stat for you?
“The main thing is when you get in that car, you have to have confidence that your team has given you the best sled that they can give you. Even though our performance was lacking the season, I had a safe car, you know, and that helps with my comfort level. You just go out there and you take a deep breath, you focus on it, and you see that flash and you hit the gas. I just really tried to relax and not overthink it.
Can you talk about just your confidence level and relationship with Ron Douglas and all the guys on your team?
“Ron and I had a deal that we made the first season we worked together. We don’t get to yell at each other, regardless of how things shake out, you know, he knows when he makes a mistake, and I know when I make a mistake. We really pride ourselves on self-reflection. So basically, the answer to that question is our relationship is awesome. It’s still kind of in its infancy, but I’ve seen him in the dumps. I’ve seen him at highlights. He’s seen me in the dumps, and he’s seen me in highlights.”
You have two successful teams. The R+L Carriers Top Fuel team and the Burnyzz Speed Shop team in Ocala, Florida. What benefits do you share between these two teams?
“That would be in the set of management skills that we have. We’ve put the proper people in place on each team and they do a fabulous job. You have to dig deep and trust the process. You can’t micromanage them. We’ve been very fortunate in that regard. We’ve got great management for car sales, trailer sales and service, and I’ve got a great car chief and crew chief, so you just got to trust the process and the people.”

What is the best part about being Josh Hart Top Fuel racecar driver?
“I truly still don’t look at it like that. I try very much to be humble. I’ve had the rug yanked out from underneath me before so you got to stay in your lane. I get to play with race cars, I get to drive race cars and I get to build cars. I’ve been car crazy since I was like two years old. I’d say the only thing that really trumps that is my family. My wife, Brittanie is a badass. She handles all the waves that I throw in the business world and she takes it like a champ. We have two young kids and she’s equally awesome with them. That’s probably the highlight of my career, my family first and then my racing.”
Do you see your level of competitiveness going down for the next generation in Helen, your daughter? She was a great tricycle racer this season. What can we expect from your son Banks in the future?
“It is so bad. My daughter Helen is like crazy, in a good way. She was mad at me for the delayed start in the finals. She didn’t get mad at her competitors. She didn’t get mad at the process. She got mad at me because I was the one holding her back. She does not forget that stuff, but she had a great time. She’s going to be something else. Banks, I hope is either basketball or football star and stays as far away from racing as possible. I want to have some different things going on away from the track. I am placing my chips on a strong football career.”

This story was originally published on December 15, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.