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NHRA Rookie of the Year Award battle between Dallas Glenn, Josh Hart going down to the wire

by Mike Haag | Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2021

By Mike Haag, Raceday San Antonio

With two races remaining on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season schedule, the battle for the NHRA Rookie of the Year award is extremely close and it appears that the main contenders for the title are between NHRA Pro Stock driver Dallas Glenn and Top Fuel driver Josh Hart.

Dallas Glenn and Josh Hart. NHRA photos

The NHRA Rookie of the Year award recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The nation’s leading auto racing journalists who cover the NHRA select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: the number of events competed in, performance on and off the racetrack, participation in NHRA promotions, and relationships with fans, sponsors, and media.

This year’s candidates include Artie Allen (Top Fuel), Krista Baldwin (TF), Mike Callahan (Pro Stock), Dallas Glenn (PS), Chad Green (Funny Car), Josh Hart (TF), Buddy Hull (TF), Joe Morrison (TF), Marty Robertson (PS) and Rob Tucker (PS).

While all of the above drivers deserve consideration, Glenn and Hart have emerged as the two leading candidates based on the numbers of races they have won and the number of events they have competed in during the 2021 season.

Both drivers have had a very successful racing season as a rookie and they both can make a strong case why they deserve the rookie of the year honors. The next two races will be the most important of their rookie season.

Dallas Glenn. NHRA photo

Dallas Glenn – Pro Stock

Glenn became an early standout in the Rookie of the Year battle by scoring his first NHRA Pro Stock victory in just his fourth start at the Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals. Since then, Glenn notched another victory in Topeka, Kansas. He was the No. 1 qualifier in Houston, Texas and he has 23 round wins so far this season.

 “To be nominated and in the chase for the Rookie of the Year is a huge honor, especially when looking at the long list of racers that have won it in the past,” Glenn said. “There’s two races left this season and I feel like I’m in two different battles that are really close. I’m still mathematically in the championship battle, which will go down to the wire, and this Rookie of the Year battle feels even closer than that.”

Currently, Glenn is ranked third in the NHRA Pro Stock point standings and he is still in the hunt for the championship title. Glenn’s accomplishments this season include a career-best elapsed time and mile per hour (6.535-seconds at 210.93 mph) at the spring Charlotte event. He has also qualified for all 15 national event this year and has an average qualifying position of sixth.

Dallas Glenn. NHRA photo

“I feel pretty happy with my rookie season,” Glenn said. “Many racers go years without getting their first win and I was able to get mine in my fourth race and that is a huge achievement that I don’t take lightly.”

Glenn added, “The amount of support I have gotten from the entire racing community has been incredible. Even racers and crew members from different types of racing have reached out and congratulated me. To get the support from everyone all over the country has been a big part in my drive to succeed. There’s no way I could compete at this level without the support from my wife, Sadie, and my family. Racing has always been a family sport to me and the support from my family has been amazing.”

Dallas. NHRA photos Glenn

Dallas Glenn By The Numbers:

  • 23 round wins with two races left
  • 4 final round appearances (Charlotte 1, Sonoma, Topeka, St. Louis)
  • 2 national event victories (Charlotte 1 + Topeka)
  • No. 1 qualifier in Houston
  • Avg. qualifying position: 6th
  • Avg. light overall this season: .022-seconds
  • Avg. light during NHRA Countdown: .021-seconds
  • 3rd in Pro Stock points with mathematical shot at winning the world championship
  • Made it into Countdown to the Championship in rookie season

Win/Loss Record Against Individual Drivers (excluding Four-Wides)

Aaron Stanfield     0 – 2

Erica Enders 0 – 2

Fernando Cuadra Sr.       1 – 0

Kenny Delco         1 – 0

Deric Kramer        1 – 0

Fernando Cuadra Jr.       1 – 0

Bob Benza  1 – 0

Rodger Brogdon   1 – 0

Chris McGaha      1 – 1

Val Smeland         1 – 0

Mason McGaha    1 – 1

Matt Hartford       1 – 2

Josh Hart. NHRA photo

Josh Hart – Top Fuel

Hart began his chase for the rookie title when he opened up his season winning the first event he entered in Top Fuel, the historic Gatornationals.  He followed that up with a second victory in the Countdown playoffs at the Carolina Nationals. The 38-year-old driver also has four additional semifinal appearances in just ten races.

“I am living proof that anything is possible,” Hart said. “I came from a very poor background, basically living in a trailer park and now I work in the most expensive trailer park in the world. I feel like I have a very real rags to riches story. I had to work every day to make my dream come true. I made it happen with the love and support of my wife. I want to stay humble and be kind to other people.”

This season Hart has qualified for every NHRA national event he entered. He reached the semifinals at some of the most important races of the season including the Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals, the Midwest Nationals, and the Texas Fall Nationals. Through four Countdown races he has one win and two semifinal finishes, losing only to three-time world champion Steve Torrence.

Josh Hart. 2021 DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals. NHRA photo

Even though Hart began 2021 racing on a limited basis, he pursued a full-time primary sponsor program and has been supported by TechNet. During the season he was able to add the support of R+L Carriers at the NHRA Norwalk Nationals. R+L Carriers noticed his early success and they became the primary sponsor for the seven Countdown playoff races.

“R+L Carrier events are built around rewarding their current employees and thanking them for being great employees which is why I love them so much,” Hart said. “It’s an excellent recruiting tool to find and introduce new talent to join the work force but it also is a big thank you to their current employees. This is their first foray into motorsports and I have developed a strong personal and professional relationship with the R+L Carrier leadership team.”

With two races left on the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule, Hart will be competing this weekend in Las Vegas and at the season finale in Pomona, California. A victory or semifinal finish in either event could help him secure the rookie title.

Josh Hart. 2021 DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals. NHRA photo

Josh Hart By the Numbers:

  • Through eleven races has two wins and four additional semifinal finishes.
  • Through five Countdown races, he has earned more points than Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, Antron Brown, Clay Millican and Leah Pruett.
  • Hart is the 21st different Top Fuel driver to win a Countdown race and the first rookie to win a Countdown race in one of the fuel categories since Khalid alBalooshi won at Reading in 2012.
  • Over the last five years Hart has donated all his contingency money to young racers in the sportsman categories and junior dragster ranks.
  • Average Starting position: 7.22
  • In addition to his driving skills Hart assembled his entire Top Fuel operation from scratch and runs the day-to-day operations.
  • This season Hart was racing a limited schedule as he built his team and pursued a full-time primary sponsor program. Throughout the season TechNet supported Hart and he added the support of R+L Carriers at the NHRA Norwalk Nationals as well as for the duration of the Countdown.

Previous Rookies of the Year, 5-3

Justin Ashley 3-1

Brittany Force 2-2

Countdown Contenders, 12-8

Mike Salinas 2-0

Leah Pruett 2-0

Justin Ashley 3-1

Brittany Force 2-2

Clay Millican 1-1

Shawn Langdon 1-1

Steve Torrence 1-2

Billy Torrence 0-1

World Champions, 4-5

Brittany Force 2-2

Shawn Langdon 1-1

Steve Torrence 1-2

 

 

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 34 years. In addition to covering motorsports for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 17 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike taught high school English and Journalism for 30 years before retiring in May, 2020.