Brainerd: Herbert hopes to keep momentum going

Herbert hopes to keep momentum going at B.I.R. BRAINERD, Minn. - Momentum can be a tricky thing. If you have momentum, it doesn't always last. If you don't have it, that could mean that someone else does. NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert has ...

Herbert hopes to keep momentum going at B.I.R.

BRAINERD, Minn. - Momentum can be a tricky thing. If you have momentum, it doesn't always last. If you don't have it, that could mean that someone else does. NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert has momentum right now and he wants to hold on to it for as long as he can.

Herbert is coming off a victory in Sonoma, Calif., and is looking to create a winning streak that continues in Minnesota. The NHRA's next national event is the 21st annual Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Aug. 15-18. Larry Dixon, Ron Capps, Bruce Allen and Antron Brown are the defending winners in their respective pro categories at the $1.9 million race, the 16th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. It is the 10th of 14 events for Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors.

Herbert has been racing in the Top Fuel ranks since 1991. His best year was 1999 when he won four races and was the runner-up twice. He said his Snap-on team is ready for a repeat performance.

"We had a lot of momentum going for us a couple of times in 1999," Herbert said. "We went to the finals in back-to-back races (Gainesville and Houston) and we won one of those races. We had a couple of good runs like that. If you have good momentum, it can be hard to stop. We hope that we can build up more of it and keep it going in Brainerd and perhaps hold some over for Indy (Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 28-Sept. 2)."

At the beginning of the season, it appeared as though Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon was going to run away with the series championship. Behind the wheel of his Miller Lite dragster, Dixon won seven of the first 11 races and had a substantial lead over 2001 Top Fuel champion Kenny Bernstein. That has all changed. Dixon did not qualify for the St. Louis race in June, and Darrell Russell (No. 4 in points) has captured three wins this season, including back-to-back victories in Denver and Seattle.

Herbert said the Top Fuel competition is much tougher than anyone could have expected at the start of the season. "From a fan perspective, the Top Fuel category has been fun to watch," Herbert said. "Every race you go to there are at least a half-dozen cars out there that can honestly win each race.

"It is a competitive field every time. For a while there, they had Dixon's car running so well that it made everyone else look dumb. But we have all been catching up to them and that's exciting. No one is going to walk-away with everything this season."

At the start of the 2002 season, Goodyear introduced a new tire for the nitro categories. Before the 10th event of the year, another tire was introduced, giving the teams two options for their set-up. Some competitors, such as Russell, have stayed with the first tire of the year.

"We switched to the second tire released this year," Herbert said. "I thought everyone would use it, but there are some guys sticking with the first tire. The second tire has really helped us make our car more consistent and we have seen quicker times. I think it is a good thing. The new tires are still not as good as what we used last year, but they made the changes because of safety issues and we can't complain about that."

With a more consistent car and some positive momentum, Herbert is ready to tackle Brainerd. Herbert has yet to advance to the finals at Brainerd, but that could all change.

"We go into every race thinking we can win, and Brainerd is no different," Herbert said. "Brainerd is such a fun place to go. The people are very fun, the campground is great and we like going to that event. We have a whole bunch of Snap-on guys from Minneapolis coming out to the race, so that is a little added pressure, but we are still looking forward to being there.

"Indy is right after Brainerd, but you can't look past Brainerd. That race is plenty important because it hands out the same amount of points as any other race. We are 100 percent focused on that race. We definitely had a little bit of luck at Sonoma, and hopefully that sticks with us. We want to continue the momentum and Brainerd is a great place to see that happen."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Antron Brown , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Ron Capps , Bruce Allen