IT'S A NEW BRISTOL DRAGWAY, BUT DOUG HERBERT, SNAP-ON DRAGSTER TEAM WANT TO START NEW STREAK DURING WINSTON SHOWDOWN BRISTOL, Tenn. - Doug Herbert has won more Top Fuel races at Bristol Dragway than any other driver (6), yet he'll feel just...
IT'S A NEW BRISTOL DRAGWAY, BUT DOUG HERBERT, SNAP-ON DRAGSTER TEAM WANT TO START NEW STREAK DURING WINSTON SHOWDOWN
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Doug Herbert has won more Top Fuel races at Bristol Dragway than any other driver (6), yet he'll feel just like a stranger when he gets to town for the inaugural Winston Showdown, July 8-10.
There's a new Bristol Dragway on the site of the one where Herbert dominated, this one costing owner Bruton Smith more than $13 million to build. It is the latest in the new breed of National Hot Rod Association facilities. No Top Fuel dragsters or Funny Cars have made tracks down this asphalt, but all that will change when Showdown qualifying begins Thursday with professional sessions at 4 and 8 p.m. Sessions are set Friday at 4 and 8 p.m., with eliminations beginning Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
"I think I'll have an advantage over the other competitors at Bristol in knowing the atmospheric conditions, directions to the track and where the good restaurants are," Herbert said while smiling.
Nothing except the memories remain from the old International Hot Rod Association facility that was razed to make way for the new track. Herbert, a four-time IHRA Top Fuel champion, earned six of his 19 wins at Bristol. Now he and crew chief Dick LaHaie would like to add another victory to his total.
The Showdown win is worth $200,000, and the unique twist in this race is dragsters compete against Funny Cars for the first time. The Funny Cars will receive a head start - somewhere between three-tenths and four-tenths of a second - while the dragsters must pause every so slightly before mashing the throttle.
"I will be concentrating on my side of the (starting line) tree," said Herbert. "It will be a bit of a change to hear the Funny Cars hit the gas. That's why I'll be trying to close out everything around me except the tree.
"We will be familiar with the atmospheric conditions, and, like I said, we do know how to get to the track real well. With my crew chief, Dick LaHaie, and assistant crew chief, Larry Frazier, calling the shots during the race, we have as good a chance as anybody. It won't take long for the other crew chiefs to figure it out. We'd just like to have our good luck streak continue at Bristol."
The Showdown is a non-points event, but the $200,000, plus bragging rights among Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers, provides added incentives. Herbert and the Snap-on team return to NHRA Winston Series competition at Denver, July 16-18. Herbert is second in Top Fuel points with 723, 59 behind Mike Dunn and eight ahead of Kenny Bernstein.
Herbert has already taken home some of Winston's No Bull bonus money this year. He was selected in a random drawing prior to the O'Reilly Nationals at Houston, won the race and collected $100,000, plus $50,000 more from the race purse.