GAINESVILLE, FL – March 12, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Top Fuel’s Josh Hart picked up the victory in the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout on Saturday at this weekend’s 54th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, beating Mike Salinas in the final round to win the bonus event in front of a sellout crowd at Gainesville Raceway.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel) Ron Capps (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all qualified No. 1 at the first of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Hart, a local Ocala native, put together a run of 3.748-seconds at 331.53 in his 11,000-horsepower R&L Carriers dragster, knocking off Salinas who went up in smoke on the starting line in the specialty race. Hart beat Austin Prock and defending world champ Force to reach the final round. Two years ago, Hart won in Gainesville in his Top Fuel debut, following it up with Saturday’s impressive showing.
“First of all, I guess I’ll just say that nice guys don’t finish last,” Hart said. “The team gets all the credit. That consistency to get it done every time makes me so very, very proud of the team. It’s a huge, huge accomplishment for our team. To go out and win a specialty race right off the trailer is pretty awesome. But I’m just the jockey that gets to hit the gas.
“I don’t think I knew I was supposed to be nervous or knew that I was supposed to have butterflies two years ago but when you taste it, and then it gets taken away from you and your sophomore season you want to get back to that place. I think we found a little bit of magic and Gainesville has always been good to us. We’ll do our best to get this thing in the winner’s circle more often.”
Force’s 3.699 at 336.99 from Friday in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster handed the defending world champion her 43rd top spot. She’ll open eliminations against Keith Murt, while Steve Torrence jumped to second with a 3.723 at 331.36. Doug Kalitta is third with a 3.723 at 327.82.
“It was a bummer to lose out on the All-Star Callout, but we got the No. 1 qualifier,” Force said. “We felt good going into (the Callout) and got to the semifinals, but we got beat, so our bigger focus now is raceday tomorrow. We’ll put today behind us, and got in that last qualifying session, which was good, solid run for us.
“It’s outstanding, to be in different conditions run in and still be able to run that….
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