Indianapolis: Doug Herbert U.S. Nationals preview

Good test results boost Herbert'S confidence going into prestigious U.S. Nationals INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 26, 2002 - There are a few things missing from Doug Herbert's Top Fuel resume that he would like to add - like a victory at the U.S. Nationals,...

Good test results boost Herbert'S confidence going into prestigious U.S. Nationals

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 26, 2002 - There are a few things missing from Doug Herbert's Top Fuel resume that he would like to add - like a victory at the U.S. Nationals, NHRA's most storied event, and a No. 1 qualifying position.

It's possible both could occur during the 48th edition of the U.S. Nationals, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Herbert and his Snap-on Racing team raised a few eyebrows during a test session at the track last week, registering two 4.65-second runs and taking the two-day low elapsed time honors with a 4.651-second effort in his one day of testing.

"It was a really good test session," said Herbert, giving credit to crew chief Johnny West and tuning consultant Wes Cerny. "I think Johnny, Wes and the guys learned some things that will definitely help us during the race. We tried some different things and got good results."

West, who earned his first victory as crew chief earlier this month in Sonoma, Calif., said his approach is "to peck away" at the tune-up, "taking small steps to make the car run better. It was good to see it run the 4.65 in the heat of the day."

Herbert does have two U.S. Nationals runner-up finishes. They came in his first two visits to IRP as a Top Fuel driver in 1992 and 1993. "When you get to the finals like that two years in a row, you think you should be able to win it," he said.

But he did not attend the next four events, returning in 1998, when he did not qualify. Since then, he's qualified each time, only to lose in the first round each time.

"I think we're on the right track to being competitive," added Herbert, who has qualified as high as No. 2 in his career, including at St. Louis earlier this year. "Maybe we can change our luck at Indy this time."

Herbert is battling Doug Kalitta for sixth place in the NHRA POWERade Series standings.

Herbert pulled ahead of Kalitta after beating him in the finals at Sonoma but Kalitta came back to stop Herbert two weeks ago in the quarterfinals at Brainerd, Minn. Kalitta has 882 points and Herbert 868.

"We haven't finished higher than seventh in points (1999, 2001) so that's what we'd like to do this year," said Herbert, from Cherryville, N.C. "And we haven't qualified real well at Indy, either."

Herbert's best starting position in his five previous races here has been seventh. He did reach the finals in 1993 after starting 16th.

The team will have five qualifying opportunities, including night sessions Friday and Saturday, prior to Monday's eliminations.

-dhr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Doug Kalitta