Columbus: Doug Herbert preview

Herbert, West want to build on encouraging performance during Pontiac Nationals. COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 12, 2002 - A semifinal finish and a positive performance improve the psyche of most Top Fuel drivers and tuners, and Doug Herbert and Johnny...

Herbert, West want to build on encouraging performance during Pontiac Nationals.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 12, 2002 - A semifinal finish and a positive performance improve the psyche of most Top Fuel drivers and tuners, and Doug Herbert and Johnny West are perfect examples.

Neither has been particularly pleased with Herbert's results during this NHRA Powerade Series season. Herbert's Snap-on dragster hasn't responded with the number of round wins he and West were expecting in the season's first 10 races.

But they were very encouraged when Herbert drove into the semifinals of the Chicagoland Nationals in Joliet, Ill., June 2; Herbert because it provided an opportunity to win rounds on Sunday and West because the car responded to his tune-ups.

Now West gets to test his various theories again, only this time at National Trail Raceway in nearby Hebron, during the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Friday through Sunday.

Herbert has enjoyed success at the track, winning his first Top Fuel race here in 1993. He also found the winner's circle in 1999.

"Maybe we're due to win there again," said Herbert from his Cherryville, N.C., home. "We have some fond memories from Columbus. I guess we'd just like to add to them"

Herbert has been a finalist once this season, losing to Larry Dixon at Atlanta. Herbert is eighth in points (444), one of four tightly-bunched drivers vying for places seven through 10. David Grubnic is seventh (468), Rhonda Hartman-Smith ninth (428) and her husband, John Smith, 10th (414). Herbert isn't that far behind fifth-place Doug Kalitta (526) and No. 6 Darrell Russell (511) with 13 of the 23 races still to be contested.

"I think we're finally getting things figured out," Herbert added. "We sure wish the performance would've started right away but it just didn't work out that way. That was a little disappointing, but that's the way it goes. The big thing is that everybody on the team has been working together and the performance is coming around. It's just not coming around as quick as we'd hoped."

Herbert, who began the Chicagoland event in ninth position, upset No. 7 qualifier Tony Schumacher in the first round with a 4.822-second run. Then he beat Luigi Novelli with a 4.713 and ran his best time of the weekend, 4.687 seconds, in the semis.

"We ran new Goodyear tires at Chicago and they are better than the ones we'd been using," Hebert said. "I don't think we've realized how good these tires are and how much they're going to help us. It's just a matter of getting things together."

While the second half of the season doesn't begin for another couple races, Herbert would be willing to consider this a good place to start it. "We did well in the second half of last year. We won (the NHRA 50th Anniversary race) at Pomona (in July) and picked up the pace. It would be great if we can improve on that finish this time around," he concluded.

-snap on racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Larry Dixon , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , David Grubnic , Luigi Novelli