Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster raced to a semifinal finish at the 57th Auto Club Finals today and solidified their Top Ten position in one of the toughest Top Fuel fields in the modern era. Hart, from Ocala, Florida, finished his first full season as the No. 7 Top Fuel driver in the world. Through two days of qualifying Hart and his Ron Douglas tuned Top Fuel dragster rolled off the trailer on Friday with the second quickest pass of the first session. Through three more sessions Hart made two more solid runs on Saturday running 3.714 and 3.712 seconds to head into race day as the No. 11 qualifier. It was not the ideal position, but Hart was confident his R+L Carriers team would step up on race day.
In the opening round against Countdown contender Doug Kalitta Hart was able to get the jump off the starting line and the 2021 Rookie of the Year finalist never trailed in the drag race. It was not a perfect run, but Hart’s 3.801 second run was enough to get the first win light of the day.
In the quarterfinals Hart raced third generation drag racer Krista Baldwin. Hart’s 11,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster picked up on the performance side and turned on another win light with a 3.746 second at 314.75 mph pass. At the top end the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster was moving around but Hart kept it under control to advance to another semifinal.
Racing to try and reach his third final round of the season Hart had to beat three-time world champion Antron Brown. Both dragsters launched hard and they were side-by-side for the entire race. At the finish line it was a virtual photo finish with Hart’s 3.717 second pass at 331.20 mph less than one thousandth of a second short from turning on a third win light on Sunday. According to DragRaceCentral.com the margin of victory was less than five inches at over 330 mph.
“I have so many great people in my corner from my crew chief Ron Douglas to Chris Armstrong and all the people that have joined us this season,” said Hart. “This weekend was a great unified effort. We learned a lot and made it through the sophomore season. I am anxious for next season to get here. I know I will be in my garage working on the practice tree. I wish I could say we are on to the next one but there is no next one until next year. I appreciate all the support from the fans and I love all y’all.”
Hart will head to the off-season with the knowledge that his R+L Carriers team raced to two final rounds, four semifinals in 2022 and positive momentum heading into the 2023 season.
Q1: 3.718 sec, 335.07 mph; Qual. 2
Q2: 7.609 sec, 89.25 mph; Qual. 10
Q3: 3.714 sec, 330.63 mph; Qual. 11
Q4: 3.712 sec, 311.92; Qual. 11
Bonus Points: +3 (2nd quickest of Q1)
Josh Hart, Ocala, Fla., R+L Carriers dragster, 3.801, 320.28 mph def. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools Toyota dragster, 4.113, 255.92 mph
Josh Hart, Ocala, Fla., R+L Carriers dragster, 3.746, 314.75 mph def. Krista Baldwin, Pittsboro, Ind., Baldwin Racing dragster, 4.015, 234.78 mph
Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.725, 324.44 mph def. Josh Hart, Ocala, Fla., R+L Carriers dragster, 3.717, 331.20 mph
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Brittany Force 2596
2. Antron Brown 2534
3. Austin Prock 2514
4. Justin Ashley 2510
5. Mike Salinas 2461
6. Steve Torrence 2443
7. Josh Hart 2419
8. Clay Millican 2348
9. Shawn Langdon 2339
10. Doug Kalitta 2335
Elon Werner PR