in the lanes
OCALA, FL (July 26, 2022) --- There are nearly 3,000 miles between Top Fuel championship contender Josh Hart’s homebase in Ocala, Florida and Pacific Raceway in Kent, Washington. To be precise the distance is 2,995 miles, which if Hart was driving his 11,000 horsepower R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster it would take him a lifetime of runs but only a little over 12 hours of 3.7 second passes. This weekend at the NHRA Northwest Nationals Hart will be looking to make three clean qualifying runs and four strong passes on Sunday to collect his first win on the Western Swing. Through the first two races Hart has collected a semifinal finish in Denver and a quarterfinal finish last weekend in Sonoma. The new experiences have been a welcome challenge to the second year Top Fuel professional.
“The Western Swing has been a beautiful experience just seeing these tracks. I feel very blessed. I am glad to be going rounds for sure. This is our first full season on the NHRA tour and we are making the most of it,” said Hart, a two-time Top Fuel winner in 2021. “We didn’t race every event last season and this year I decided to make a commitment to racing for the championship. I have a great team led by crew chief Ron Douglas and our marketing partners R+L Carriers and Technet provide us the opportunity to be as competitive as anyone out here. Our goal is to represent them to the highest level and perform on the track.”
This season started slower than Hart would have liked but he was impressed with how his team pulled together and worked through some new car growing pains. The past five races have seen a combination of strong qualifying efforts and race day performances. Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster raced to the final round of the Norwalk Nationals and the semifinals of the Mile-High Nationals, two dramatically different races that challenge crew chiefs and teams. Last weekend a quarterfinal finish kept Hart in the thick of the Top Fuel Top Ten sitting in fifth place.
“The regular season is about winning races and positioning your team for the Countdown,” said Hart. “We are still working towards the wins but sitting in fifth place is a good spot with four more races left before the Countdown starts. We can have a good race in Seattle then Topeka and Brainerd. There are points and half in Indy so we can move up with some good races. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The new venues of the Western Swing have afforded Hart the chance to race at some new tracks but also spend time with new fans. The Mile-High Nationals and Sonoma Nationals were well attended races that were incredibly close to sell-out NHRA events. The new fans meant a new chance for Hart and his R+L Carriers team to talk about career opportunities with guests and spectators which is one of the team’s major missions with their racing program.
“Every race we talk with guests and fans about the different careers R+L Carriers offers,” said Hart. “We aren’t just looking for over the road truck drivers. There are all sorts of jobs all over the country that are great opportunities for people to start life changing careers. We promote the website careers.rlcarriers.com on the side of my Top Fuel dragster and people can head to that website and change their lives with a great job with R+L Carriers.”
The battle for the Top Fuel championship will be a test of wills and Hart is looking forward to proving himself in the toughest drag racing arena in the world. He has steadily moved up the drag racing ranks through the sportsman classes, winning multiple times in Top Alcohol Dragster before making the move last year to Top Fuel. The rookie season campaign of 12 races was a success and now Hart is ready to see his name alongside of previous champions.
“You always want to see if you stack up against the competition and I am a very competitive person. Ron gives me the confidence I need. He told me a while back that I don’t get to worry until he worries and even then I can’t worry. You take your race car up there and you try and make the most of every run,” said Hart. “My time in Top Fuel has had its challenges and we are learning every race. I have a great team around me and I think we are moving in the right direction. Seattle will be a good test for us and we are up to the challenge. I have to thank R+L Carriers, Technet and all our marketing partners for putting me in a position to chase this dream.”
The Northwest Nationals will begin on Friday with one round of qualifying followed by two sessions on Saturday. The R+L Carriers Top Fuel team will be working to be as high as possible on the qualifying sheet for Sunday’s elimination rounds which will begin at 10:30 p.m. PT. The NHRA national event will be broadcast nationally on FOX beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
SEATTLE LAST FRONTIER FOR JOSH HART ON FIRST WESTERN SWING
Feb. 18-20 Lucas Oil Winternationals Pomona, Calif. Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Feb. 25-27 Arizona Nationals Chandler, Ariz. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
March 11-13. Amalie Oil Gatornationals. Gainesville, Fla. Gainesville Raceway
April 1-3 Four-Wide Nationals Las Vegas The Strip at LVMS
April 22-24 Mopar Express Lane SpringNationals Baytown,Texas Houston Raceway Park
April 29-May 1 NGK Four-Wide Nationals. Concord, N.C. zMax DragwayM
May 13-15 Virginia Nationals Dinwiddie, Va. Virginia Motorsports Park
June 3-5 New England Nationals Epping, N.H. New England Dragway
June 17-19 Thunder Valley Nationals. Bristol, Tenn. Bristol Dragway
June 24-26 Summit Racing Equip. Nationals Norwalk, Ohio Summit Racing Equipment Park
July 15-17 Dodge SRT Mile-High Nationals Morrison, Colo. Bandimere Speedway
July 22-24 Sonoma Nationals Sonoma, Calif. Sonoma Raceway
July 29-31 Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals Kent, Wash. Pacific Raceways
Aug. 12-14 Menard’s Nationals Topeka, Kan. Heartland Motorsports Park
Aug. 19-21 Lucas Oil Nationals Brainerd, Minn. Brainerd Int’l Raceway
Sept. 2-5 Dodge SRT U.S. Nationals Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
Sept. 16-18. Mopar Express Lane Nationals Mohnton, Pa. Maple Grove Raceway
Sept. 23-25 Carolina Nationals Concord, N.C. zMax Dragway
Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Midwest Nationals Madison, Il World Wide Technology Raceway
Oct. 14-16 Texas FallNationals Ennis, Texas Texas Motorplex
Oct. 28-30 Dodge SRT Nationals Las Vegas The Strip at LVMS
Nov. 11-13 Auto Club Finals Pomona, Ca Auto Club Raceway at Pomona