Josh Hart Looks to Finish the Job, Earn First Circle K NHRA 4-Wide Nationals Win
Still young in his burgeoning Top Fuel career, Josh Hart has already enjoyed success in the four-wide format, advancing to the final quad three different times, including both of his first two seasons racing at the Circle K NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Hart, though, will look to finish the job for the first time in the unique, sensory overload setting that is four-wide drag racing, bringing plenty of momentum into this weekend’s 13th annual Circle K NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at the “Bellagio of Drag Strips.”
The third-year standout advanced to the final quad in Las Vegas two weekends ago in his 11,000-horsepower R&L Carriers dragster, looking to make a big move from his current 10th position in the loaded Top Fuel ranks. Hart has one career win at zMAX Dragway, winning the fall race during his rookie season in 2021, and now aims to put together his first four-wide victory.
“I enjoy racing at zMAX Dragway and we have had some success there,” Hart said. “It has been a while since we turned on three or four win lights there to get that Wally trophy and I feel like we have a team that can compete for wins every weekend. We haven’t gotten off to the kind of start I wanted to this season, but we made progress in Pomona and Las Vegas.”
Last year’s winners at the Circle K NHRA 4-Wide Nationals included Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and this weekend’s race will again be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage beginning at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday. It is the fifth of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the first of two annual stops in Charlotte is always one of the marquee events of the year.
The four-wide format at state-of-the-art zMAX Dragway presents one of the biggest spectacles in motorsports and Hart is eager to cash in. He’s had high moments this year, winning the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout in Gainesville, but Hart is still after his first Sunday victory of the season.
Nothing comes easy in a class that also features points leader Steve Torrence, who has ruled the four-wide format over the years in Charlotte, defending world champ Brittany Force, Gainesville winner Salinas, Justin Ashley, who has a pair of wins this year, Leah Pruett and Vegas four-wide winner Antron Brown.
Hart, though, remains focused on his team’s improvement and he’s confident the team is headed in the right direction with Charlotte – and a busy summer schedule – approaching.
“We didn’t perform last season as well as I was hoping but we learned a ton,” Hart said. “We had a new car and that was the most Top Fuel races I ever raced in one season. I basically doubled my experience in Top Fuel last year. This season we knew what to expect but the competition was also ready for us. We aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year.
“I messed up in the first round of the Gatornationals and then we battled gremlins at the Arizona Nationals. We made some progress at the Winternationals and I think we got back on track in Las Vegas racing to that final quad. I feel good coming to Charlotte about my driving and the race car. (Crew chief) Ron Douglas is the best and I wouldn’t trade my crew for anyone else in the pits.”
In Funny Car, Force will try for a third straight four-wide win in Charlotte, while others to watch include points leader Matt Hagan, who has three wins in four races in 2023, defending world champ Ron Capps, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria.
Pro Stock returns to the four-wide format in Charlotte in 2023, with points leader Dallas Glenn earning back-to-back wins this year. Glenn’s first career victory came at the four-wide race in Charlotte in 2021. Other class stars include defending world champ Erica Enders, Phoenix winner Camrie Caruso, Greg Anderson and Troy Coughlin Jr.
Pro Stock Motorcycle is back on track for the first time since Gainesville, with Gaige Herrera looking to build on his Gatornationals win. It won’t be easy in a talent-heavy lineup that includes area native and defending world champ Matt Smith, Angie Smith, Jerry Savoie, defending event winner Johnson and Eddie Krawiec.
The Circle K NHRA 4-Wide Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, featuring some of the top racers in the country. The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports and Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown will be in action during the weekend as well. An autograph session will take place on Saturday at the Toyota Display with Toyota-sponsored drivers, at the Suzuki display for competitors in Pro Stock Motorcycle and at the Nitro Alley Stage for NHRA Pro Mod drivers.
Fans will also be invited all weekend long to the Nitro Alley Stage, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into the nitro pits. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more.
Race fans at zMAX Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Charlotte. This opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 28, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 29 at 12:30 and 3:45 p.m. Eliminations will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 30. Television coverage includes qualifying action at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday and 12 p.m. ET on Sunday on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), leading into eliminations coverage at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday at FS1.
To purchase tickets to the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, please visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 800-455-3267. Children 13 and under are admitted free in general admissions areas with a paid adult. For more information about NHRA, visit www.nhra.com.