After a tough race at the NHRA Arizona Nationals last weekend Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster made major strides this weekend at the NHRA Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. The rising star from Ocala, Florida made three solid qualifying runs Friday and Saturday posting times of 3.769, 3.773 and 3.782 seconds all under power. The winner of the 2023 Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout event rolled into race day as the No. 9 qualifier and a tough match-up with Steve Torrence.
Knowing he needed to step up on the performance side in the first round Hart and his Ron Douglas tuned 12,000-horsepowered R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster made their quickest run of the weekend a solid 3.756 second run at 326.32 mph. Hart was also first off the line with a tremendous .027 reaction time, quickest of the session to give his team the best shot at advancing to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, even with Hart’s stellar starting line performance and the improved run by the R+L Carrier dragster he dropped a close race by .002 seconds.
“My awesome co-crew chief, Dave Gaterell and my crew chief Ron Douglas told me I could do whatever I wanted in qualifying to get more acclimated to the car,” said Hart. “I’m super grateful for them putting up with me and I found my groove at the Winternationals. The shallower you stage the lower your ET be. We had a bracket car all weekend and it was a great reset. We got our car back and we needed to get the driver back, so they agreed to let me do whatever I wanted in staging. I feel great now.”
The steady improvement during qualifying combined with the improved run in the first round has the determined Hart ready to make a move in two weeks. Hart will head to Las Vegas for the first four-wide nationals of the season. Hart will be ready to take on the unique racing event just 20 minutes from The Strip.
“You have to understand upfront before you ever get in one of these things that this is racing,” said Hart. “There’s gonna be peaks and valleys and we found a peak when we won the Pep Boys Allstar Callout and we found a valley the past two races. Now it’s time for us to level out a little bit and win some races. I am excited to get to the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals in two weeks.”