JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 25, 2001 - Quick elapsed times, the saying goes, bring happiness to Top Fuel drivers. Doug Herbert knows first-hand. Recent Snap-on Racing dragster performances have brightened Herbert's days. And now he's going to the...
JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 25, 2001 - Quick elapsed times, the saying goes, bring happiness to Top Fuel drivers. Doug Herbert knows first-hand.
Recent Snap-on Racing dragster performances have brightened Herbert's days. And now he's going to the track where he ran very good numbers four months ago - Route 66 Raceway - for the Inaugural NHRA Nationals, Friday through Sunday.
"We are definitely looking forward to returning there when our car is running this good," said Herbert. "We can run with anybody on a good track like Route 66 Raceway. We just have had trouble on tracks when the weather's been hot and humid."
The weather was unseasonably cold on the first weekend in June when the Winston Series made its first stop of the year at the Joliet facility and near-perfect atmospheric and track conditions produced record-setting performances. Herbert's Larry Frazier-tuned dragster responded with his quickest runs of the year - 4.558, 4.561 and 4.565 seconds. The latter two times came during elimination-round wins and he ran 4.599 in the semifinals and lost - to Kenny Bernstein's 4.533.
"Our car is running better now than it was in June," Herbert added. "And we know the conditions will be cool this time, and it won't be a freak of nature like it was before. I wouldn't be surprised if we can run 4.50 (seconds) flat, and we'll probably need to because other cars will be running those times.
"Our goal is to go to Joliet and just pick up where we left off . We don't want to run a 4.59 this time and get beat, though."
Herbert's career-best time is 4.551 seconds, run in March of 1999 before NHRA's 90-percent nitromethane rule. He's run in the 4.50s at five different tracks this year, including last weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park, where he was the No. 2 qualifier at the AutoZone Nationals at 4.597 seconds.
Herbert also dipped into the 4.50s at Phoenix (4.589), Houston (4.583) and Las Vegas (4.582).
The Snap-on dragster driver doesn't think he'll be seeing the same conditions this weekend that he faced at Memphis on Sunday. Dragster drivers experienced problems with the unpredictable racing surface. Heat and sunshine on the track caused Herbert and Frazier to approach the first round cautiously.
"We wanted to make sure our car went down the track in the first round and that we didn't beat ourselves," Herbert commented on his winning 4.742-second time. "We could've run better and, as things turned out, we lost lane choice (for his quarterfinal race against Doug Kalitta).
Herbert's car smoked the tires halfway down the quarter-mile, slowing him to a 5.071 and Kalitta won easily with a 4.684.
While he didn't gain any ground on sixth place Darrell Russell, Herbert did solidify his hold on seventh with 1022 points, 75 ahead of Tony Schumacher. If he remains seventh through the final five races of the year, Herbert will equal his highest Winston Series finish.