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Las Vegas Positives Give Josh Hart More Motivation for Charlotte Nationals

The first four-wide race of the season is in the books and Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team made strides at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After four qualifying sessions Hart made continually quicker runs and entered race day at the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals as the No. 12 qualifier. The first round quad was comprised of Brittany Force, Billy Torrence and Jasmine Salinas. It was a tough group of competitors, but Hart felt the two runs on Saturday set his R+L Carriers team up for success.

When all four 12,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster rolled into their assigned lanes it was Hart in lane two flanked by Force in lane one and Torrence in lane three. Hart was first off the line with a .073 reaction time and at half-track Force had driven past him but he held off Torrence and Salinas to advance to the second round. His win came at a cost as his engine expired at the finish line in a quick ball of flames. His winning time of 3.957 seconds at 275.96 mph was his quickest pass of the weekend and set him up with another race against Force along with Doug Kalitta and Steve Torrence.
“I think the thing that sticks with me the most is this team is so much better than the results we have seen so far this season,” said Hart. “Everyone is working their tails off, but we are just having to really battle. That is what makes this sport so hard and so satisfying. I know we will start seeing more positive results and I am looking forward to getting to Charlotte. We had an expensive first round, but we got this R+L Carriers racecar put back together and we made our best run of the weekend. That is a testament to how good this team is.”
In the second round Hart left the starting line just a tick behind Kalitta and Torrence and his R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster made an improved run that was smooth right down the middle of his lane. Unfortunately, Kalitta and Torrence held him off at the finish line stripe posting winning elapsed times of 3.751 and 3.777 seconds just in front of Hart’s best of the weekend 3.796 seconds at 328.78 mph. At the end of the day Hart held his position in the Top Ten and crew chief Ron Douglas left the track with positive data and determination for improvement at the next four-wide race in two weeks at zMAX Dragway.
“We are moving in the right direction with this new combination, but nothing moves fast enough,” said crew chief Ron Douglas. “We are fixing issues on every run and these last three runs here in Las Vegas were more steps in the right direction. The key is being able to duplicate good runs and not tear our stuff up.”
For the second year in a row Hart advanced out of the first quad at the unique four-wide race in Las Vegas. The young driver has developed a pattern of building on his four-wide success at the Charlotte national event racing to the final quad every year he has competed at the track location just north of Charlotte. Hart will be back on track for two qualifying runs in two weeks.

This story was originally published on April 15, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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