Denver: Doug Herbert preview

Snap-On Racing Report Herbert, Snap-On crew want to capitalize on recent success during three-race western swing. DENVER, July 15, 2002 - A combination of round wins plus good elapsed times usually equals renewed optimism in NHRA Powerade ...

Snap-On Racing Report

Herbert, Snap-On crew want to capitalize on recent success during three-race western swing.

DENVER, July 15, 2002 - A combination of round wins plus good elapsed times usually equals renewed optimism in NHRA Powerade Series Top Fuel competition. That's exactly the way Doug Herbert and his Snap-on Racing team feel as they prepare for the season's final 11 races.

Herbert recently completed his crew realignment by hiring veteran Wes Cerny as tuning consultant to work with crew chief Johnny West. The duo will be busy because the NHRA's annual three-race Western swing - at Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. - begins with the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 19-21, at Bandimere Speedway in nearby Morrison.

In the last three races, Herbert has been a semifinalist (Chicago), a runner-up (Columbus, Ohio), and a quarterfinalist (St. Louis) while climbing from ninth to seventh in the standings. He also qualified a season-best No. 2 at St. Louis. His 596 points put him 19 behind sixth-place Doug Kalitta and 23 behind fifth-place Darrell Russell.

"We've made some pretty big changes, bringing Johnny in after last season and now adding Wes, and our performance is getting better," said Herbert. "Johnny is doing a good job and I think Wes working with him will only help make things better. I think we are going in the right direction now. We could salvage the year if we keep running well and get a win soon. That would be great."

And Herbert has set his sights on a higher finish. "We've finished seventh before (2001 and 1999) and now we want to finish better than that," he said. "I think we can. What we're trying to do is build a foundation for next year.

"There's only one place I want to finish, and that's first," Herbert continued. "We didn't get going as quickly as we wanted this year but it has been getting better and I want to see it continue to get better. If it does, I'll be happy."

This three-race part of the schedule hadn't been one of Herbert's favorites until last year. His five round wins - semifinal appearances at Denver and Sonoma and a quarterfinal at Seattle - were three more than he's won at all tracks combined since 1997.

"That was probably the best western swing I ever had," Herbert noted. "If we can average getting to the semifinals for the rest of the season then we'll have a good year."

Herbert's best showing at Bandimere Speedway was runner-up in 1993. He went to the semis in 1992 and 1997, when his two round wins were the only ones he managed at all three tracks from 1997-2000.

As the opportunity to make a significant upward move in the standings looms, Herbert is planning to do his part to help. "I have to get myself back on a diet," he commented. At 6-4, he's the tallest driver in his category. "Some of the other Top Fuel drivers only weight 160 pounds soaking wet and I'm a full-sized adult." He's listed at 220 pounds but may weigh a tad more right now.

Mile-High Nationals qualifying takes place Friday and Saturday with eliminations set for Sunday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Doug Kalitta