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After magical debut, Top Fuel’s Josh Hart enjoying bigger spotlight at Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals

Josh Hart is back and after his incredible Top Fuel debut in Gainesville, there’s a substantially larger fan following with him this weekend in Atlanta.
01 May 2021
Josh Hachat

Josh Hart is back and after his incredible Top Fuel debut in Gainesville, there’s a substantially larger fan following with him.

Hart’s incredible story is well-known by now, as he opened his Top Fuel career with a victory at the Gatornationals, which is also his home track. He didn’t race in Las Vegas but is geared up for this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, looking to keep his incredible start going.

Along the way, he’s added a large number of fans. Hart received a massive amount of messages in the immediate aftermath of his victory, but he gladly admitted it hasn’t slowed down.

“It’s been pretty steady,” Hart said. “People have been coming into (Burnyzz Speed Shop) just to do get me to sign things. I’m not used to that, but it’s been super good. Social media has been super popular and I never would have expected as much traction as we got. It’s good for morale, but these guys are magicians. It’s a lot of fun and it's been very good, and the guys on this team are awesome.”

Hart has continually credited a strong team, led by crew chief Ron Douglas, for his stellar start. He was the first driver to win in his debut since the late Darrell Russell did it 20 years ago, but the focus is now building on that in his 11,000-horsepower Technet/Burnyzz dragster.

The team showed consistency in Gainesville and Hart was dynamite on the starting line, and that remains the goal in Atlanta.

“Gainesville was storybook,” Hart said. “That’s the one I wanted the most and I’m really happy to be back here. We weren’t thinking we were going to run a full season. We were planning maybe 10-12 races, but now obviously we’re looking at trying to go for a full season. It’s been a learning experience and this team just gelled right off the rip.”

That led to the hot start, but the team is nowhere near satisfied. The victory changed priorities for Hart’s rookie season, but his main goal is still enjoying the ride.

Getting a victory at the final race in Atlanta would certainly count as fun, and Hart has a good track record at the facility, winning in 2018 in Top Alcohol Dragster.

As the fans poured in on Saturday to take in the historic final race at Georgia’s House of Speed, Hart recognized how special the weekend will be. Ending it as the last pair of cars to go down Atlanta Dragway would simply make it that much more memorable.

“We just go in trying to be as prepared as possible, give it our best shot and see what happens,” Hart said. “The main thing is to have fun and put on a good show for the fans. It would be very surreal (to win). It’s awesome to see this crowd. I still get the butterflies when the car turns the corner and you see all these people looking at you. Thank God when they start the engine that all goes away. But it’s a cool deal seeing a packed house.”