Denver: Herbert looks for combination

DENVER, July 11, 2000 - There's one thing certain about this weekend's Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway: Top Fuel and Funny Car times will be slower than they have been in the last few years. Just when crew chiefs had devised ways...

DENVER, July 11, 2000 - There's one thing certain about this weekend's Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway: Top Fuel and Funny Car times will be slower than they have been in the last few years. Just when crew chiefs had devised ways to lower the track record from 4.813 seconds in 1995 to Joe Amato's 4.584 seconds last year, NHRA's new 90-percent nitromethane rule was introduced in January. So it's back to square one for all the crew chiefs, including Larry Frazier, tuner on Doug Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster. Frazier is a Colorado native and has raced at Bandimere for many years, but even he just shrugs when asked what to expect when qualifying begins Friday. "The times will be slower, just like they have been at all the other tracks we've raced at this year," Frazier said. "Our best time at Denver last year was 4.668 seconds, but that was using 100 percent nitro. I think every crew chief will be raising the engine compression to compensate for the altitude." Herbert is eighth in Top Fuel standings (472 points), 64 behind Cory McClenathan and 81 behind sixth-place Doug Kalitta. "I don't think Frazier wants to give away any secrets, so he's not saying what he plans to do," said Herbert. "He's had a pretty good handle on tune-ups at that altitude, so maybe that will be an advantage for us. Herbert reached the Mile-High semifinals in 1997 but has exited in the first round in 1998 and 1999. "We qualified well there last year (the 4.668) but didn't do well in eliminations," he commented. "That's one track where you never really know how well you're going to do until you step on the gas." Last weekend, Herbert qualified well at the non-points Winston Showdown - the race featuring Top Fuel drivers against their Funny Car counterparts - at Bristol, Tenn. His 4.721 at 304.53 mph was No. 3 among the 12 dragsters. During eliminations, the Cherryville, N.C., driver defeated Bob Gilbertson in the first round with a 4.863 at 295.08. Through a quirk in scheduling - race rules reinstated the two Funny Cars who had the quickest losing times in the first round - Herbert squared off against Gilbertson again in the next round.

This time, the Snap-on dragster's engine dropped cylinders and shook the tires, slowing to a 7.773 at 104.96 mph while Gilbertson won with a 5.265. "That was weird racing the same guy again," said Herbert. "Hopefully we'll be able to cure the cylinder dropping and be ready to go in Denver."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta