DOUG HERBERT, SNAP-ON TOP FUEL TEAM READY TO BEGIN PURSUING 2000 NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP POMONA, Calif., Jan. 25, 2000 - This is a new year, even a new millennium, but Doug Herbert will be using that same old goal he sets at the beginning of each...
DOUG HERBERT, SNAP-ON TOP FUEL TEAM READY TO BEGIN PURSUING 2000 NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP
POMONA, Calif., Jan. 25, 2000 - This is a new year, even a new millennium, but Doug Herbert will be using that same old goal he sets at the beginning of each National Hot Rod Association season.
"I always start the year with the goal of winning the Top Fuel championship," he said. "Heck, that's why I'm racing. I want to win the title."
Herbert hopes to parlay his 1999 success into a strong run for this year's crown. The Cherryville, N.C., driver has beefed up his crew, adding veteran tuner Dave Settles as technology advisor to work with crew chief Larry Frazier on the Snap-on Racing dragster.
"I think Frazier and Settles will help us win races and be a championship contender, " Herbert commented. "Frazier uses the practical approach to racing and tuning while Settles is more analytical, so they should work well together."
The 23-race campaign gets under way with the AutoZone Winternationals, Feb. 3-6, at Pomona Raceway. With the season come several challenges for Frazier, Settles and the other nitromethane crew chiefs.
NHRA implemented a rule calling for a 90-percent nitromethane fuel mixture and announced plans to fine drivers whose cars oil down the racetrack.
"Frazier and Settles worked with the 90-percent rule during (preseason) testing and we should be OK going into Pomona," Herbert said. "One of our others goals is that we want to do better than last year. That's our realistic goal, but it's a pretty lofty one because we had a heckuva year in 1999."
It was simply Herbert's finest in NHRA Winston Series competition. He won a career-best four races in six finals rounds, collected a $100,000 Winston No Bull bonus, ran his quickest time (4.551 seconds) and fastest speed (321.65 mph) and stayed in the title picture until the final two races. Prior to '99, Herbert's final-round record was 1-5.
"I didn't give up my title hopes until right there at the end of the season," added Herbert, who was third, 140 points out of first place, after 20 of 22 events.
However, he was disappointed when he didn't qualify at the AAA Finals and slipped to seventh overall. "I think we had a better car than the seventh place indicates," he remarked. "Realistically, our 1999 goal was to go out and win a race or two. We didn't do as good as I'd hoped, but we did better than I expected."
And the Snap-on Racing driver believes the 2000 title chase will be as close as last year's, when as many as seven drivers still were in contention with four races to go. "Guys like Gary Scelzi, Joe Amato, Kenny Bernstein and Cory McClenathan always seem to run good, and that list doesn't include Tony Schumacher, who won it all last year," Herbert said. "I think it will be interesting to see if the drivers who ran good during testing will run good at Pomona."
Although he hasn't won a race at Pomona, Herbert does have some fond memories of the track. In 1992, he qualified at 4.880 seconds, which was then drag racing's quickest elapsed time, and, one year later, he became the second driver to exceed 300 mph with a 301.60 mph clocking.