Columbus: Doug Herbert hopes for repeat

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 9, 2000 - Wanted: Good racing luck. Anyone able to provide it, please contact Doug Herbert, Cherryville, N.C. Yes, it has been one of those kind of years for Herbert and his Snap-on Tools Top Fuel team. He's...

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 9, 2000 - Wanted: Good racing luck. Anyone able to provide it, please contact Doug Herbert, Cherryville, N.C.

Yes, it has been one of those kind of years for Herbert and his Snap-on Tools Top Fuel team. He's already acknowledged that without bad luck, he'd have no luck at all. And he wants you to know he's not greedy. He doesn't want all the good luck out there, just his share.

"We've been making a bunch of deposits into the luck bank," said Herbert. "I think it's about time to make some withdrawals."

There could be no better place to start than National Trail Raceway in nearby Kirkersville, at track that has produced two of Herbert's five career victories, albeit six years apart, 1993 and 1999. Herbert returns with the rest of the NHRA Winston Series contingent for the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, June 16-18.

"It's nice for me to go back to a track where I've had some success," Herbert noted. "Of course I don't have too many tracks like that. We'd sure like to have a lot more and we're working on it.

"Over the last few weeks I've said that I think we're getting our act together to where we should win some rounds and, hopefully, some races. It seemed like we've had a car capable of doing that at the last couple races but things just haven't worked out."

Crew chief Larry Frazier and technology expert Dave Settles made some changes to the combination - running on 90-percent nitromethane this year - and the car responded. Herbert lowered his best 2000 elapsed time in the last two events, running 4.640 and 4.609 seconds at Ennis, Texas, and Joliet, Ill., respectively. Track conditions and hot, humid weather will be factors in how low Herbert's Snap-on dragster will run during the Pontiac Nationals.

"It is a tough track to race on," Herbert said, "but with 90-percent nitro, maybe a lot of cars won't smoke the tires there like they have in the past. For us, we'd be thrilled with a repeat of last year."

After winning the event in 1993, Herbert went without an NHRA victory until April 1999. He won four times last year and was runner-up two times en route to a career-best seventh-place finish.

He's currently in eighth place with 387 points, 58 behind Cory McClenathan, and hoping to begin moving up the ladder.

"We had our chances at the last two races but just didn't get the job done," Herbert commented, pointing out first-round setbacks at Texas (foul start) and Joliet (slower reaction time). "I think I might've been a little cautious at Joliet. My .501 (second reaction time) wasn't a great light but a good one. (Doug) Kalitta took a shot with his .429 and got by. It was just another bad luck deal."

Kalitta won with a 4.690 to Herbert's 4.641. Kalitta's reaction time was the quickest of the day in Top Fuel and Funny Car. In fact, only four other drivers, all in Pro Stock, left the line quicker on race day.

Herbert, meanwhile, had the second-best Top Fuel time in the opening round and third quickest of the day.

Those are the things that make Herbert yearn for a little racing luck.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert