Englishtown: Herbert seeks consistency

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 2001 - Doug Herbert has one eye on the National Hot Rod Association schedule and the other on the Winston Series Top Fuel standings. The upcoming SuperNationals, May 18-20 at Raceway Park, will be the first...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 2001 - Doug Herbert has one eye on the National Hot Rod Association schedule and the other on the Winston Series Top Fuel standings.

The upcoming SuperNationals, May 18-20 at Raceway Park, will be the first of three successive races and, by the time the final one is run June 3 at Joliet, Ill., 10 of 24 event will be in the record books.

Herbert, driver of the Snap-on Racing dragster, began the campaign with his usual goal: winning the championship. As he prepares for the ride to New Jersey, he's eighth in points (319) and trails pacesetting Mike Dunn by more than 200 points.

"The car has been running good during qualifying, and that has raised our expectations," said Herbert. "We should be a contender to win every race, but it's not looking that way."

The reason is simply put, yet much more difficult to solve.

Herbert and crew chief Larry Frazier still haven't uncovered a race-day tune-up for sunny, hot conditions.

"Englishtown is a good track," Herbert commented, "so when we race there we usually don't have the problem of a slippery racing surface and you can stick to you're game plan. Lately, with the slick tracks we've been running, about the only thing we've learned is what not to do.

"We'll keep working on the combination. We're doing the best we can. Ultimately, it's going to come around. Frazier and I both hope it's very soon . . . like at Englishtown."

The second of the three races in a row unfolds at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan., May 25-27), a track that has exhibited slippery conditions when the temperatures are hot and the sun is out. The last event is the Route 66 Nationals, June 1-3, at Joliet, Ill., which can also be tricky.

The fact he's qualified well at six of the first seven races yet hasn't reached the semifinals at least once is perplexing the Cherryville, N.C. driver.

"We need to find the half-way point between our qualifying combination and the one we run during eliminations when the sun is out and it's hot," Herbert noted. "Like I said, we keep learning something new each race so we should get it right soon."

Herbert has qualified in the top half of the 16-car field six times - third, fourth and sixth once apiece and fifth three times. He started 12th once.

He was sixth at the Southern Nationals (May 6 at Commerce, Ga.) and advanced to the second round before losing a tire-smoking battle to Larry Dixon.

"Looking back, that loss was disappointing," he said. "We made a tuning mistake. I decided we needed to tune it up to race Dixon. As it turned out, a 4.70 (seconds) would've looked real good. But that's hindsight, and that's always 20-20."

Dixon wound up winning the smoky round with a 5.796 to Herbert's 6.357.

-JS

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn