Doug Herbert Richmond Preview

HERBERT, LaHAIE LOOK FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE DURING THIS WEEK'S PENNZOIL NATIONALS AT RICHMOND DINWIDDIE, Va. - Like a doctor examining a patient, Dick LaHaie inspects the engine in Doug Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster, looking...

HERBERT, LaHAIE LOOK FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE DURING THIS WEEK'S PENNZOIL NATIONALS AT RICHMOND

DINWIDDIE, Va. - Like a doctor examining a patient, Dick LaHaie inspects the engine in Doug Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster, looking for ailments. LaHaie found some before Sunday's Castrol Nationals at Ennis, Texas, and the cure - as things turned out - created another problem. The result sent Herbert to a tire-smoking first-round loss to David Grubnic. At the same time, LaHaie indicated what he learned should make Herbert run better during the Pennzoil Nationals, which begins Friday at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond. "We've been having some engine problems lately," said LaHaie. "I think they began in the last round at Gainesville (Fla., where Herbert finished second) and continued at Houston. We just weren't running as quick as we should have been and we were hurting valves. We changed valve springs before the first round and the engine jumped up and wanted to run." It wanted to run too much, in fact. The rear tires began smoking soon after Herbert hit the throttle. Grubnic's car smoked the tires, too, but he was able to recover and gained a slight advantage, winning with a 5.833-second time at 191.85 mph. Herbert stopped the clocks at 5.936 at 283.01 mph. "We put the new parts on and the engine definitely picked up horsepower," said LaHaie. "We solved one problem and created five more. The valve springs were acting like a governor on the engine. We'll start over at Richmond and adjust to what the engine likes with the higher rpm." Herbert, who won for the second time in his career at Houston (April 11), was obviously disappointed. "It was discouraging, but at least we don't have long to think about it. We'll be ready to go at Richmond and give it our best shot." Despite the early exit, Herbert only slipped one place in Winston Series points. He's third with 346, 53 behind Mike Dunn's 399. Tony Schumacher moved into second with 349 points. Qualifying is scheduled at 3 and 7 p.m. Friday, noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations Sunday begin at 11 a.m.

Doug Herbert Facts:

Age: 31 Hometown: Cherryville, N.C.

Career Final-round record: 2-7 1999 Final rounds: 1-2 Last Win: April 11, 1999, Houston

Quickest time: 4.551 seconds (3/99, Gainesville, Fla.) Fastest speed: 321.65 mph (4/99, Houston)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn , Dick LaHaie