Gainesville: Doug Herbert preview

Herbert enthused about Gatornationals chances following good test results at Atlanta Dragway. GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 7, 2003 - The feeling-good attitude that was prevalent in Doug Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel camp during the first two...

Herbert enthused about Gatornationals chances following good test results at Atlanta Dragway.

GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 7, 2003 - The feeling-good attitude that was prevalent in Doug Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel camp during the first two 2003 NHRA POWERade Series events has been replaced by a more determined outlook.

Hopes the racecar's performance in February would resemble it's good showing in the final two months of the 2003 campaign were dashed by middle-of-the-pack qualifying and a No. 10 ranking after two outings. While the elapsed times were respectable, they weren't among the top five, a place where Herbert, crew chief Ron Douglas and tuning consultant Jim Brissette believe they should be.

"The car wasn't responding like we thought it would. We tested after the Phoenix race (Feb. 23) and the car still didn't do what we felt it should," said Herbert.

After the team returned to its Cherryville, N.C. shop and poured over the engine, fuel system and clutch areas, looking for problems, Herbert, Douglas and Brissette decided another test outing was necessary - this time at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.

"It's the closest NHRA national event track to home, so we did some more testing, and we are glad we did," Herbert reported. "On our first few runs, the car got worse, so we went another direction with the tune-up and it ran really well. The half-track numbers we were getting were as good as our mid-4.50 (second) runs last year. It looks like we have it figured out."

And it's just in time for the Mac Tools Gatornationals, March 14-16, at Gainesville, Fla. Herbert and the crew would like to step into the rival tool company's winner's circle on Sunday evening. Herbert was runner-up in 1999, losing a close race to Mike Dunn in what was then the quickest side-by-side race in history, 4.550 to 4.563 seconds.

"It turns out we had some problems in the fuel system, but I think we have them under control now," Herbert added. "We are ready to go, and I'll tell you I'm really ready to go. I think we've had too much time off between races."

Testing at Phoenix (Feb. 24) wasn't a wasted effort, either, Herbert said. "We found out what wasn't a problem. I guess in order to find the problem, you must first find out what isn't. We were all confident leaving Atlanta that we'd solved the problem.

"It's like the t-shirt I made for (car owner) Bill Miller," he continued. "It says 'Confidence is the feeling you get before you totally understand the situation.' I guess we'll find out how confident we are after we make our first two qualifying runs Friday at Gainesville."

Herbert's best 2003 elapsed time is 4.588 seconds, run in his first-round win at Pomona, Calif. (Feb. 9). He has 85 points but could climb significantly higher with a good Gatornationals performance. Top Fuel qualifying is scheduled for noon and 3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

-sor-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn