Denver: Doug Herbert preview

Herbert ready to return to winning ways at Mile-High Nationals MORRISON, Colo., July 14, 2003 - Doug Herbert isn't much of an historian. His philosophy is "what's done is done. We'll learn from it and move on." That is the same approach...

Herbert ready to return to winning ways at Mile-High Nationals

MORRISON, Colo., July 14, 2003 - Doug Herbert isn't much of an historian. His philosophy is "what's done is done. We'll learn from it and move on."

That is the same approach taken by virtually all his Top Fuel rivals, too. In NHRA POWERade Series competition, the only way to maintain any sanity is to look ahead, not behind. It only takes less than five seconds to lose an elimination round and, for some, it may take days to forget it.

Herbert's Snap-on Racing team has been in a learning mode for half the 23-race schedule. With 11 races to go - beginning with the Mopar Mile-High Nationals, July 18-20, at Bandimere Speedway, a short drive from downtown Denver - the Cherryville, N.C., driver is more than ready to begin challenging for race victories.

He's already made one final-round appearance this year, finishing second at Bristol, Tenn., in April, but his performances have lacked the consistency the team had been seeking.

"We've made some changes on the car, trying to make it run better, since our last race at St. Louis (June 29)," said Herbert. "It will be exciting to see if the things we changed do what we hope they do."

"It seems like at the beginning of the year we started out near the top of the standings, then we kind of slipped back. The last five or six races haven't been very good for us, so, hopefully, we can get back where we need to be," Herbert continued. "We need to finish in the top three or four cars by the time the season is over. If we don't, then it's going to be disappointing. I think we are going to be OK, and I think the changes we made will be good."

Herbert concluded the 2002 campaign with a flourish, reaching the semifinals in four of the final five events and notching his first two career No. 1 qualifying efforts along the way. New crew chief Ron Douglas, Jim Brissette, the team's new tuning consultant, and Herbert thought they'd keep the same performance level and that Herbert would be a viable 2003 championship contender.

And he was, for awhile.

After going to the semifinals at Houston in April, Herbert followed with his runner-up showing at Bristol, Tenn., good enough to place him fourth in points. He stayed among the top four for a few more races before mechanical problems plagued the Snap-on team at Chicago in May and he didn't qualify for the first time in 59 races.

Although he comes to Denver in eighth spot, Herbert's 586 points put him 71 points behind fourth-place Cory McClenathan, a difference of less than four round wins.

"With our car running as good as it was last year, we hoped we wouldn't have to change the combination this year," said Herbert. "But we had to make changes because the same parts we used last year aren't available this year. There was a new batch of clutch discs, new cylinder heads and fuel pumps for this year.

"When the parts aren't the same, there's no way to make it run the same. It's just flat different. We'll just keep making changes until we find the right combination that will get the job done."

Douglas, a member of Herbert's crew since 1998, has been learning to work with Brissette, who was Herbert's crew chief 10 years ago.

"Ron has a lot more on his plate than he had before, so that's different," Herbert said, "He wasn't familiar with working with Brissette and I was, so I've had to be more involved. It's a whole new learning curve.

"Our plan is to finish the second half of the year strong so next year we won't have to make as many changes to start with," added Herbert. "That's what we're working for now."

In nine previous Mile-High races, Herbert has finished second once (1993) and been a semifinalist twice (1992, 1997). He was a quarterfinalist at the last two races.

"Although we haven't done well at Denver recently, maybe this is the year things will turn around," Herbert concluded.

He's still looking ahead.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Cory McClenathan