HERBERT, LaHAIE LOOK FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE FROM SNAP-ON DRAGSTER AT ATLANTA RACE COMMERCE, Ga. - Doug Herbert and Dick LaHaie looked upon the Pennzoil Nationals as a learning experience. They want to show what kind of education was...
HERBERT, LaHAIE LOOK FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE FROM SNAP-ON DRAGSTER AT ATLANTA RACE
COMMERCE, Ga. - Doug Herbert and Dick LaHaie looked upon the Pennzoil Nationals as a learning experience. They want to show what kind of education was received at the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals, May 14-16, at Atlanta Dragway.
LaHaie, crew chief on Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster, found out the engine needed new rocker arm adapters - after Herbert was defeated by Kenny Bernstein in the second round of the Pennzoil event at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond. LaHaie discovered the motor that generates about 7,000 horsepower required different valve springs one race earlier.
The combination had LaHaie fighting the tune-up at Richmond. And a very unpredictable race track didn't help matters any.
"We had some problems out there, but I felt the car was going to run good against Bernstein," LaHaie said. But it didn't. The faulty rocker arm adapter didn't work and one cylinder didn't fire.
The result was Bernstein overcame Herbert's early lead to win with a 4.702-second time at 311.34 mph. Herbert slowed to a 4.969 at 246.57.
LaHaie struggled to get the car down the track with competitive times. Herbert's 4.896 at 256.75 mph was his qualifying best and left him 16th going into eliminations. On race day, however, Herbert was ready for top qualifier Gary Scelzi. Using a .497 reaction time for a .505, Herbert held off Scelzi to win by two-thousandths of a second, 4.800 to 4.794.
"It was great to win on a hole shot like that," said Herbert, from Cherryville, N.C. "We had terrible luck almost all weekend, chasing a parts problem. Dick will get everything ready and we will be ready to go racing at Atlanta."
"Even though we had our problems, we still learned some things that will help us," commented LaHaie.
The Top Fuel championship race has become a logjam. Herbert slipped to fifth pace with 397 points, but he trails fourth-place Cory McClenathan by two, third-place Tony Schumacher by seven and second-place Larry Dixon by 21. Mike Dunn is the leader with 475.
Doug Herbert Facts:
Age: 31 Hometown: Cherryville, N.C.
Career Final-round record: 2-7 1999 Final rounds: 1-2 Last Win: April 11, 1999, Houston
Quickest time: 4.551 seconds (3/99, Gainesville, Fla.) Fastest speed: 321.65 mph (4/99, Houston)