Josh Hart will make his Top Fuel debut this weekend at the historic Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Hart made several practice passes on Tuesday in his Burnyzz- and Technet-sponsored entry to prepare for the Gatornationals.
“It’s going to be pretty surreal,” said Hart. “I never thought I was going to be here. You hear all the rumors about money, sponsors… for the stars to align enough for me to be able to do this, it’s an honor.”
When Hart makes his first Top Fuel pass, it will continue the Ocala, Fla., native’s tradition of making his first pass in a category at Gainesville Raceway. Also, being close to home, Hart will have a lot of supporters in attendance.
“I’m sure a lot of people will be there,” he said. “That’s piling on the pressure.”
Hart will be one of two competitors who will be making their Top Fuel debuts this weekend. Krista Baldwin, who was licensed last October, will also be competing in the class in Chris Karamesines' old dragster.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s nice to have new people coming into the sport. The more independent people will only help this sport grow. It’s going to be tough competing against the multicar teams. I’m trying to build an equal model to Capco [Steve Torrence/Billy Torrence]. I have a lot of admiration for those guys. They have a strong business. They do not have to worry about sponsors. They have a strong family, and they have a badass race team.”
Hart is not nervous about making his Top Fuel debut. He was previously supposed to make his debut in 2020 with Bob Vandergriff Racing. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vandergriff and Hart decided that it would be best for Hart to own his own team.
“I’m not nervous about my Top Fuel debut,” Hart said. “I’m nervous about getting more laps under my belt. I’m nervous about getting more comfortable in the car. I’m pretty comfortable, but there’s no price for the experience. Around Atlanta or Charlotte, you’ll start to see my reaction times on point and things starting to come together. Right now, everything is new, and I’m just trying to get settled.”
Hart will be working with veteran tuner Ron Douglas. Hart's crew chief has more than two decades of experience working for teams in the NHRA.
“He’s been amazing to work with,” he said of working with Douglas. “He knows how to get the car down the track. Ninety-nine perfect of the time, you have confidence sitting in the car that it’s going to go A to B. He also doesn’t blow a lot of stuff up. I think I made the right choice. I don’t have to worry about the equipment with Ron. The team knows what to do. They’ve done a great job.”