Snap-On Racing Report
Herbert pleased with test results; looking forward to return to Route 66 Raceway.
JOLIET, Ill., May 30, 2002 - There's a bit of a grin on Doug Herbert's face now, even after two successive first-round losses.
The reason is twofold. Herbert made four test runs in his Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster Monday at Topeka, Kan., with very promising results. And it comes just in time for a return to Route 66 Raceway for this weekend's Chicagoland Dodge Dealers Nationals.
Herbert established career bests for elapsed time (4.542 seconds) and speed (325.69 mph) in his last visit in September. In this event a year ago he registered a 4.558-second run and enjoyed a very consistent, impressive race. He posted three successive 4.5-second times during eliminations - 4.561, 4.565 and 4.599 - losing to Kenny Bernstein's 4.533 in the semifinals with the slowest run.
"Obviously we ran good there both times last year and I think with what we learned testing that we can come back and be very competitive again this week," said Herbert. "Johnny (West, the crew chief) made some changes to the engine and the clutch after our loss at Topeka (Sunday) and then we worked on the combination Monday. These weren't small changes but we had to take a different approach. What we had been doing just wasn't working.
"The car responded to the changes and I feel pretty good about it," he continued. "We were on our best run of the season on our fourth test run when the throttle cable broke. If it was going to break, I'm glad it did it then and not during qualifying or eliminations this weekend."
Herbert has one runner-up finish (Atlanta) in nine 2002 NHRA Powerade Series events and is ninth with 372 points. He trails sixth-place Darrell Russell by 83 points with 14 races remaining.
West has been searching for a consistent combination to cure traction problems. The Snap-on dragster was smoking the tires. One of the problems has been the current Goodyear Tire compound. It has confounded many crew chiefs this season in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Goodyear will have a different tire beginning this weekend and Herbert and West hope it will help cure the tire smoke. The answers should begin coming when qualifying begins Friday. Eliminations are Sunday.