Smiling Herbert, Snap-On Team focus on winning second straight Top Fuel Race this weekend in Minnesota. BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 13, 2002 - Suddenly the birds are singing brighter, the sun is out and the humidity is down. The world's a wonderful...
Smiling Herbert, Snap-On Team focus on winning second straight Top Fuel Race this weekend in Minnesota.
BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 13, 2002 - Suddenly the birds are singing brighter, the sun is out and the humidity is down. The world's a wonderful place to live right now as far as Doug Herbert is concerned.
The Top Fuel driver from Cherryville, N.C. still smiles when he thinks about his Fram/Autolite Nationals victory at Sonoma, Calif. (Aug. 4). Not only was it his first 2002 win in three final rounds, but it was his first win in 13 months and it helped him put an exclamation point on a successful Western swing. (The swing is races on successive weekends at Denver, Seattle and Sonoma. He won one round each at Denver and Seattle in the first two races.)
The victory pushed him into sixth place in NHRA POWERade Series points with 815, 11 more than Doug Kalitta, Herbert's victim in the title round at Sonoma.
Now Herbert's goals are to continue to capitalize on the momentum his hard-fought victory gave his Snap-on Racing crew and climb a notch or two in the standings. Fifth-place Tony Schumacher is 63 points ahead with eight of the 23 series events remaining. First up is the Rugged Liners Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Friday through Sunday.
Herbert has had limited success at Brainerd Raceway. He's advanced to the quarterfinals in his last two visits but wants more this time around.
"We'll definitely be ready to go," he said. "I think everything is starting to come together. Johnny (West, crew chief) and Wes (Cerny, tuning consultant) are working together and we're picking up a little momentum.
"It's exciting to win races," Herbert continued. "You have to win races. No matter what you do off the track for your sponsors, you have to win races to keep everybody happy, to keep the morale of the team up . . . and keep my morale up, too.
"Just winning one these races is unbelievable. I hope we don't have to wait another year to win another one of these things. I'm kind of greedy. I want to win more."
Herbert now has seven career wins. Right now, his three title-round appearances equal his 1993 campaign, when he won his first race (at Columbus, Ohio) and was second twice. His best season was in 1999, when he won four times in six finals. His best NHRA POWERade Series finish is seventh (2001, 1999).
"Every race is an opportunity," he reasons. "You just go up to the starting line and you just hate whoever is in the other lane as soon as you put your helmet on. When we come up to the starting line nobody can be your friend. When I go to the starting line, I figure that the guy in the other lane is trying to steal food off my table . . . and that's the way it is."
Herbert beat Kalitta with a 4.727-second, 308.85-mph run to a 4.766 at 305.36.
"It doesn't matter what the car runs in the final as long as the win light comes on in your lane," Herbert said. "That's the most important thing."
Herbert will be making two qualifying runs Friday and two Saturday before Rugged Liners Nationals eliminations Sunday.