Indianapolis: Doug Herbert preview

McCulloch Tries to Tune Herbert to First U.S. Nationals Win Snap-on Tuner Won Six Times at Indy, Including 1992 Decision over Herbert INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 30, 2004 - Like any kid growing up around drag racing, Doug Herbert wanted to win the U.S.

McCulloch Tries to Tune Herbert to First U.S. Nationals Win
Snap-on Tuner Won Six Times at Indy, Including 1992 Decision over Herbert

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 30, 2004 - Like any kid growing up around drag racing, Doug Herbert wanted to win the U.S. Nationals. It was the biggest and best . . . NHRA's primo event.

Twelve years after his first visit to the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Herbert still covets a victory. He's come close, finishing second twice, ironically, in his first two races at IRP in 1992-93.

The 50th U.S. Nationals unfolds Sept. 3-6, with Herbert chasing his dream. This time, he's teaming with six-time Indy winner Ed "Ace" McCulloch, tuner of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster.

"When I was growing up, there weren't as many national events as we have now, so all the drivers focused on winning Indy. It was very big," said Herbert. "It still is. I still want to win it."

McCulloch drove to Funny Car victories in his first two U.S. Nationals races in 1971-72, and was runner-up in 1973. He won five times in Funny Car (1971, 1972, 1980, 1988 and 1990) and one in Top Fuel, and it came at Herbert's expense in 1992.

Herbert fought his way to the title round that year, beating Scott Kalitta, Kenny Bernstein and Cory McClenathan before taking on McCulloch.

"He was hard to beat that day," Herbert recalled. "He beat me off the starting line and outran us. We ran pretty good (4.931 seconds), but he ran better (4.892). Some guys have a knack for winning at Indy and Ace was one of them. I think he knows how to win Indy, and I hope we can combine to do it.

"They're hyping this year's race because it's the 50 anniversary," continued Herbert. "We won NHRA's 50th Anniversary race in 2001 and maybe we'll be destined to win all the 50th anniversary races. That would be great."

"Indy has been extremely good to me, and I don't know why," said McCulloch. "We try hard to win every race, but for some reason when I pull in the IRP gate, I get goose bumps. Why is it special? I don't know, but it is.

"It would be very gratifying to win this time. I owe it to Doug. We haven't had a good year. We haven't performed up to expectations," the Snap-on tuner added. "When I won at Indy in 1971, I thought I was set for life. That first win came in my first national event and my first time at Indy. It didn't get any better than that."

Herbert lost a tire-smoking race against Pat Austin in 1993 - 7.164 seconds to 8.545.

"My car smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle," said Herbert. "By the time Austin's car smoked the tires, he was too far down the track to catch."

Herbert is eighth in 2004 POWERade points with 782, 106 behind seventh-place Cory McClenathan.

Not only is the U.S. Nationals the oldest and most prestigious event, it's also the longest. Teams have five qualifying attempts instead of the usual four, and there are two night sessions. The first is Friday night at 7:30. Saturday's two runs are at 3 and 6:15 p.m., followed by Sunday's final attempts at 12:45 and 4 p.m. Monday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

-dhr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Kenny Bernstein , Cory McClenathan