Josh Hart banks $80,000 payday with victory in Pep Boys All-Star Top Fuel Callout
Local hero Josh Hart, who won his first career NHRA national event title at Gainesville Raceway, added another highlight to his career with his victory in the 2nd annual Pep Boys All-Star Top Fuel Callout, held Saturday during the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals event that Hart won back in 2021.
Hart, taking part in his first Callout event, defeated tire-smoking Mike Salinas in the final round with a 3.748, his best run of the meet, while Salinas smoked the tires in his Scrappers Racing dragster. The victory netted the Ocala, Fla., resident a cool $80,000 payday from Pep Boys.
"It's a huge, huge accomplishment for our team," said Hart. "We have prepared like no other December, January, February, so to go right out again and win a specialty race right off the trailer is pretty awesome. But my team are the ones that should be sitting in the seat talking about me. I'm the jockey that gets to hit the gas. As long as I do that part right and keep it straight, I'm OK. All the credit goes to the team.
"The Josh Hart [that won the 2021 gatornationals] didn't know anything. I don't think I knew I was supposed to be nervous or knew that I was supposed to have butterflies. But you know, when you taste it, and then it gets taken away from you in your sophomore season, you just want to get back to that place. So I think we found a little bit of magic, Gainesville has always been good to us, and now that I've got a little bit of seasoning on me, we'll do our best to get this thing in the winner's circle more often."
Hart opened his Callout day with a first-round victory over fellow Callout rookie Austin Prock, driving around Prock’s holeshot with a 3.765 after Prock’s Montana Brands dragster smoked the tires at midtrack. Hart then upset No. 1 qualifier, defending world champ, and 2022 callout runner-up Brittany Force. Force, who had low e.t. of round one in beating Clay Millican with a 3.74, called out Hart in round two, and Hart’s Ron Douglas-tuned R+L Carriers dragster zoomed to a 3.751 after Force’s Monster Energy dragster smoked the tires early.
Salinas, a semifinalist in last year’s inaugural Callout, opened his account with a 3.751, driving around Justin Ashley’s four-hundredths holeshot to post the win and collect a $5,000 side bet between the two. Salinas’ Rob Flynn-tuned rail advanced to the final round with a 3.763 after Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tool dragster lost traction.