POMONA, Calif., July 2, 2001 - If this is Pomona Raceway it must be . . . well, it's certainly not time for the Auto Club Finals. It is, however, a time to celebrate NHRA's 50th Anniversary, and they're doing it with a one-off national event to...
POMONA, Calif., July 2, 2001 - If this is Pomona Raceway it must be . . . well, it's certainly not time for the Auto Club Finals.
It is, however, a time to celebrate NHRA's 50th Anniversary, and they're doing it with a one-off national event to be contested in the evening hours of July 5-7. The second Pomona stop on the Winston Series schedule falls in the middle of summer, so conditions will be much warmer than in February for the Winternationals and in November for the Finals.
"I know from growing up in Southern California that you never know how hot it's going to be at this time of year," said Doug Herbert, driver of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster.
That's one reason for the later starting times. Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying is scheduled at 2:45 and 6 p.m. Thursday, 4:45 and 8 p.m. Friday. Saturday's eliminations commence at 4 p.m. and are scheduled to end prior to the 10 p.m. curfew.
This event signals the beginning of the final 12 races in the 24-event season and Herbert hopes it's the start of something good for his race team. Frankly, he's in a rut. He's qualified well at almost all of the previous races but hasn't made that translate to winning rounds on Sunday. Maybe the fact this race is on Saturday will help.
"It has been somewhat frustrating because you'd think with the good qualifying runs we've had that we should've won a lot of rounds on race day, but it just hasn't happened," Herbert said. "We absolutely need to be able to put some good runs together on Saturday, for this race.
"We are in eighth place right now, but that's not where we want to be. I think our performance is getting to the point where we should be a top five contender, but we can't seem to find the right combination."
One need look no further than the Winternationals here in February for an example. Herbert qualified fourth (4.608 seconds) but was upset in the first round. He left the starting line first against Bobby Baldwin and was pulling away when the car's tires began spinning. The lack of traction enabled Baldwin to pass him for the win.
"We have plenty of time to go out, win some races and do some damage in the standings," Herbert added. "The performance is there and so is the capability to win. We just don't have the consistency and the race day luck. The tracks are pretty good when the they're cool, but as soon as they get warm we seem to have trouble."
Herbert's best day came a month ago at Joliet, Ill., when he notched his consecutive 4.5-second times during eliminations. He lost in the semifinals with a 4.599 to Kenny Bernstein's 4.533.
"I like racing at Pomona," said Herbert, who now lives in Cherryville, N.C. "I always have a lot of friends and family come out to watch me race. When it comes to tuning our Snap-on dragster this weekend, I hope (crew chief Larry) Frazier and I will be able to use something we've learned from the hot tracks we've been racing on lately."
Herbert has 567 points, 71 behind seventh place Tony Schumacher.