Englishtown: Herbert seeks improvement

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., Sept. 6, 2000 - Doug Herbert isn't an NHRA neophyte. He knows that in drag racing, nothing is guaranteed. About the only certainty is uncertainty. Even so, the Cherryville, N.C.-based driver of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., Sept. 6, 2000 - Doug Herbert isn't an NHRA neophyte. He knows that in drag racing, nothing is guaranteed. About the only certainty is uncertainty.

Even so, the Cherryville, N.C.-based driver of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster is disappointed this 2000 season hasn't been as productive as he hoped. And time is running out.

The completion of the rain-delayed Spring Supernationals at Raceway Park Saturday will leave just six racing weekends on the schedule. Herbert goes into the event, which is preceded by a Friday tune-up, as the No. 5 qualifier. Rain and cold weather in May forced NHRA to reschedule this weekend with the field set after two qualifying runs.

"We got in the one good run (4.700 seconds at 292.46 mph), which is more than some of the other drivers did," said Herbert.

That's true. Only seven dragsters ran in the fours and just 15 qualified for eliminations. A revised competitive ladder gives the top qualifier a bye and produces a battle of Dougs in the first round - Herbert against Kalitta, No. 12, 13.360 at 79.05 mph.

"That was a weird weekend in May - cold and wet," Herbert recalled. "A lot of cars really didn't get down the track at all. We had a good qualifying run but now we have to race Kalitta, who has been running good lately.

"Conditions Saturday should be a lot better than they were in May. I hope we'll be able to learn something on our two runs Friday. Maybe we'll be able to get our Snap-on dragster down the track consistently."

That's been a problem this year, and it continued at Indianapolis. Herbert made one good run - 4.755 at 306.95 - to start 13th. His first-round rival was Tony Schumacher, winner of the previous event at Brainerd, Minn., and No. 4 qualifier at Indy.

Herbert's car dropped a cylinder at the hit of the throttle and he gave up the chase as Schumacher, who went on to win the event, pulled away.

"That was really a frustrating weekend," Herbert added. "We wanted the car to go down the track and run a 4.70. We didn't want to smoke the tires and just give it to him."

Schumacher was timed in 4.673 seconds at 309.27 mph to Herbert's coasting 10.395 at 83.37.

"We need a change of luck. Maybe this will be the place to get it," Herbert concluded.

He is ninth in Winston Series standings with 656 points.

Jim Bailey, driver of Herbert's IHRA Snap-on Racing Top Fuel entry, is planning a busy weekend. He'll attempt to qualify Friday for the IHRA race at Epping, N.H., then drive to New Jersey for Saturday's NHRA event. He qualified ninth and is scheduled to race Steve Smith in the first round.

Friday's test sessions are scheduled at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday's eliminations begin at 2 p.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Tony Schumacher , Steve Smith