A recent runner-up finish in Norwalk, Ohio, has second year Top Fuel driver and team owner Josh Hart eager to start the three race Western Swing this weekend at the NHRA Mile-High Nationals. Hart powered the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster to the final round at the NHRA Norwalk Nationals and moved up to sixth place in the point standings just four points out of fifth place. The positive momentum from that finish as well as three races of strong qualifying efforts has the driver from Ocala, Florida, geared up for a strong regular season finish.
“We got off to a tough start this season, but I think those hurdles made our R+L Carriers team stronger,” said Hart, who has two Top Fuel victories to his credit. “Our first season we turned heads with our performance and success. This year we made a lot of changes to improve for the long haul and it just took us some time to figure a few things out. The Western Swing will be a great chance for us to get into a racing groove. Racing in Denver, Sonoma and Seattle will be a great test for our team.”
Even though this is Hart’s second season wheeling the 11,000 horsepower R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster this will be the driver’s first appearance at Bandimere Speedway. Last year the team was racing on a limited schedule and a trip to the mountaintop race track was not in their plans. The new experience is one that Hart and his young team are looking forward to tackling.
“The challenges are what makes this sport so satisfying,” said Hart. “The hard work this team has been putting in all season and especially the additional preparation to race at a track like Bandimere Speedway will not go unnoticed. I have a lot of confidence in Ron Douglas, my business partner and crew chief, as well as everyone on our crew. I want to give my best every time down the track because I know all these guys are busting their tails in the pits.”
This season Hart has raced to two semifinals and a runner-up through ten races. With six races left in the regular season before the points reset Hart will be taking on the competition at five new venues for Top Fuel competition. The three race Western Swing is an especially challenging endeavor for any young team. Hart is not deterred and is focused on giving Bandimere Speedway his full attention this weekend.
“There are a lot of new tracks coming up for me and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster,” said Hart. “I have been talking with Ron about our strategy and it is pretty simple. We are going to take every pass one by one and try to come out strong in qualifying. The past three races we have started from fifth or higher and that is a great place to start. We just need to maximize our performance on race day. There are a lot of rounds to be won between now and the US Nationals.”
In six races the points will reset and Hart will get his first chance to compete in the Countdown for his first NHRA Top Fuel world championship. It will be a six-race playoff sprint for the title. As a single car team Hart knows he is in a unique situation, but it is one that he relies on his sponsors and team to give him the support and guidance he needs.
“I talk with the president of R+L Carriers regularly and he reminds me of the important aspects of what we are doing at the track,” said Hart. “I get to talk with fans about great career opportunities with an amazing company. We get to host employees and their guests throughout the weekend across the country. This is also a lot of fun and a great privilege, so I never want to lose sight of that. The Mile High Nationals are going to be a great opportunity for our team.”
The R+L Carriers team will get two qualifying runs on Friday and two on Saturday to grab a spot in the top sixteen qualifying ladder. Final eliminations will begin at noon local time. The race will be broadcast nationally on FOX from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET.
Elon Werner PR