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Matt Hartford is currently second in the Pro Stock point standings. (NHRA photo)

Matt Hartford Enjoys Being A Thorn In Pro Stock’s Side

Matt Hartford enjoys being a thorn in the side of his fellow Pro Stock drivers when he shows up to the race track.

As he is second in the standings with five of 18 races completed — 81 points behind Dallas Glenn — it appears Hartford is achieving his goal. But off the track, the driver of the Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to his approach to NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series competition.

Though he is a full-time contender, Hartford has a day job, he rarely discusses racing during the week and his crew typically only touches the car on an event weekend, as they all hold down day jobs as well.

It may be considered an abnormal method of operation, but it works for the five-time national event winner. Hartford plans to continue his pattern at the upcoming Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., on May 19-21.

Matt Hartford drives the Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro. (NHRA photo)

“We’re going to roll in there Thursday evening, we’re going to unload our car — which hasn’t been out of the trailer since Charlotte (N.C.) — and we’re going to prepare the car, get it ready and start talking about the race,” Hartford said.

He admits the late preparation puts him at a disadvantage against drivers who focus on NHRA full time, such as Glenn or Erica Enders, but Hartford isn’t intimidated to do things differently.

“Matt Smith said it best years ago. He said, ‘We are hobby racers by design. We do not make a living racing,’” Hartford said. “But I think this year, we’re proving that we can be a thorn in everyone’s side.”

After finishing in the quarterfinals at the season-opening Gatornationals, Hartford made a quick dash up the ladder, racing to the semifinals at the Arizona Nationals and a final round appearance at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in California.

During the recent pair of four-wide events, he made an unfortunate exit during the second round at The Strip @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway and rebounded to reach the finals at North Carolina’s zMAX Dragway. The mixed bag of results Hartford has accumulated has the team pointed in the right direction as his next objective involves winning a sixth career Wally.

“We’ve not capitalized on Sundays — driver error a little bit and car error a little bit,” Hartford said, convinced it will only take a few minor adjustments to push the team into the winner’s circle.

The Chevrolet Camaro driver performed well enough to earn the second seed in the inaugural Pro Stock All-Star Callout — a specialty race-within-a-race involving a $40,000 purse — scheduled for Saturday, May 20, as part of the Route 66 weekend. Berths in the eight-car callout field are assigned based on qualifying results.

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Matt Hartford fiddles around on race day at the Arizona Nationals. (NHRA photo)

“It’s an honor to even be involved in the All-Star this year,” Hartford said. “We were really worried about it going through the offseason, wondering if we would be able to get into it, because we know the media exposure will be huge.”

Along with having its own dedicated, one-hour television show, the Pro Stock All-Star Callout will also be aired ahead of the NASCAR All-Star Race on Sunday, May 21, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) on FS1.

“All these ways that we’re putting more exposure on Pro Stock is the best thing NHRA has done for the class in many, many years,” Hartford said.

Glenn, Hartford, Kyle Koretsky, Aaron Stanfield, Troy Coughlin Jr., Cristian Cuadra, Erica Enders and Camrie Caruso will appear in the specialty race. As the No. 1 seed, Glenn will be the first to “call out” an opponent on the drag strip.

Unless chosen by Glenn, Hartford will be the second to select a rival.

“There’s going to be eight of us out there all with the same goal, and that’s to take the money home at the end of the day,” Hartford concluded.