Gateway: Herbert Ready race

Herbert, Larry Frazier Look For Fractions Of A Second To Improve Snap-On Top Fuel Dragster'S Performance MADISON, Ill., June 19, 2001 - Time is of the essence for everyone, but for those who drive Top Fuel dragsters in NHRA Winston Series...

Herbert, Larry Frazier Look For Fractions Of A Second To Improve Snap-On Top Fuel Dragster'S Performance

MADISON, Ill., June 19, 2001 - Time is of the essence for everyone, but for those who drive Top Fuel dragsters in NHRA Winston Series racing, time is broken into fractions of seconds.

Doug Herbert, for example, realizes his competitive elapsed times need to be about five-hundredthsof a second better if he is to win an upcoming race.

So he and Snap-on Racing dragster crew chief Larry Frazier are trying to figure out a way to shave off those fractions, preferably by this weekend and just in time for the Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 22-24 at Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis.

"The car is running better in hot weather conditions," said Herbert. "We learned quite a bit last weekend (at a race near Columbus, Ohio) and St. Louis should have similar hot and humid weather, so we should be able to run good.

"We are off about 500-hundredths of a second when our elapsed times are compared to the winning drivers in the first and second rounds and the semifinals," he added. "We had better times than Gary Scelzi and Mike Dunn Sunday so we're getting there."

Herbert did reach the semifinals here last year, but that race was run at night, providing improved racing conditions. This time eliminations will be Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., so Herbert and Frazier expect another hot, slippery track.

"We have something we can race with," Herbert said. "We'll keep learning and eventually we'll get to the right place." While Herbert's race-day performance has been about five-hundredths of a second shy of what he wants, his qualifying times have consistently placed him in the top eight. He was fifth - for the fifth time in 11 races - at Columbus with a 4.732-second time at 303.23 mph.

"Our last qualifying session threw us a curve when our engine blew up and we didn't really find out why," Herbert commented. "We think the problem was in the electrical system because we didn't have trouble Sunday." Herbert defeated Rhonda Hartman-Smith with a 4.717 at 291.26 mph but lost to Darrell Russell in the quarterfinals, 4.689 to 4.733. The difference in times? That five hundredths of a second.

That provides a glimpse into why Herbert's goal is to come up with another few hundredths of a second. It doesn't sound like much, but it's the difference between a victory and a loss. He's currently eighth in points with 535, 30 behind Tony Schumacher. <pre> Doug Herbert Facts: Age: 33 Hometown: Cherryville, N.C.

Career final-round record: 5-11 2001 final rounds: None

Quickest 2001 time: 4.558 seconds (6/2, Joliet, Ill.) Fastest 2001 speed: 320.51 mph (6/3, Joliet, Ill.)

Career best time: 4.551 seconds (3/99, Gainesville, Fla.) Career fastest speed: 321.65 mph (4/99, Houston)

-SOT-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi