Jun. 23—NORWALK — Back-to-back races have many benefits for NHRA professional teams.
Drivers get into a groove and teams can gel into a more cohesive working unit. For Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel team getting back to the track for the NHRA Norwalk Nationals will afford them the opportunity to put a frustrating Thunder Valley Nationals in the figurative rearview mirror.
Hart entered race day at Bristol as the No. 3 qualifier, their best qualifying position of their young career. They made another solid run in the first round, but surprisingly it was not enough to advance to the quarterfinals.
"We had our best qualifying position and we just had a tough first round match-up which shows how competitive this Top Fuel category is," said Hart, who has two career national event Top Fuel wins.
Throughout this season Hart and his young team have been chasing several issues breaking in a brand-new Top Fuel dragster. This learning curve has tested the entire team but in Hart's opinion his team is rising to the occasion every race.
"We have made a lot of improvements throughout the season and I think we have a lot of issues behind us so we can focus on winning rounds and races," said Hart. "We have a couple semifinal finishes and our qualifying efforts are getting better. We just need to put everything together on race day which I know we can do starting this weekend in Norwalk."
Hart has already gotten his race week started with a daylong appearance to support primary sponsor R+L Carriers on Tuesday. The driver spent the day meeting R+L Carriers employees, posing for photos and signing autographs.
The event was one of many Hart attended across the country in support of one of his biggest marketing partners.
Though its headquarters are located in Wilmington, Ohio, R+L Carriers also happens to have a large transport center directly next door, just a few hundred feet from Summit Motorsports Park on Ohio 18.
"It is an honor to work with a company like R+L Carriers that treats all their employees like family," said Hart. "They are a true family business that treats everyone with respect. It isn't hard to get excited to meet and talk with these folks when everyone has a smile on their face. I could not be prouder to represent this company."
During the Norwalk Nationals in addition to Hart's race rig R+L Carriers will also have their Hometown Showcase display on the property. The Hometown Showcase delivers inspiration, scholarships and career opportunities to students across America.
The Showcase partners with interested schools and communities to offer support to booster clubs, scholarships and on-site visits to highlight the many careers available including technology, logistics, sales, mechanics, professional drivers and more.
Hart has been an ambassador on and off the track. In just over 20 professional races the driver from Ocala, Fla. has raced to at least the semifinals in half of his races.
He also has spent hours with fans and guests talking about the unique employment opportunities across the country with R+L Carriers. At every NHRA National event Hart's team displays the very competitive compensation structure as well as wide variety of job opportunities available.
"There is nothing cooler than talking with a race fan and then getting them excited about possibly working with R+L Carriers," Hart said. "Every race I get to talk with people about an opportunity that could change their life.
"The racing is a lot of fun and very challenging but the time with the fans is what really motivates not just me but the whole team. I am looking forward to seeing a packed house in Norwalk and making some really quick passes," he added.
The past four national events have seen three of Hart's best qualifying efforts of the season. He has also advanced to a semifinal and quarterfinal. The Norwalk Nationals will be another warm weather event and July will wrap up with the famed Western Swing.
"This sport is very unforgiving, but I am not the kind of person that is going to give up," Hart said. "I have built a few businesses from nothing. This is the first full season for this team, so every race weekend is an opportunity for success. Anything is possible."
The Norwalk Nationals will be one just a handful of national events to feature four qualifying sessions before eliminations commence on Sunday. The race will be broadcast nationally on FOX beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday.