Las Vegas II: Doug Herbert preview

Herbert optimistic going to Las Vegas. LAS VEGAS, October 21, 2002 - Optimism could be Doug Herbert's middle name. And why not? It is, or should be, high on the list of values of anyone who drives a Top Fuel dragster in NHRA POWERade Series ...

Herbert optimistic going to Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, October 21, 2002 - Optimism could be Doug Herbert's middle name.

And why not? It is, or should be, high on the list of values of anyone who drives a Top Fuel dragster in NHRA POWERade Series competition.

Herbert is optimistic about his chances in the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  In the past two races, the Snap-on Racing driver has been the No. 1 qualifier (at Joliet, Ill.) and No. 2 qualifier (at Ennis, Texas).  He comes to this Mecca of perpetual optimism with a solid streak of 12 consecutive races without a first-round loss.

      Included is a race victory at Sonoma, Calif., to go along with two runner-up finishes (Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio) earlier in the 23-race campaign.

"We had the quickest time of eliminations (4.559 seconds) in the first round at Ennis, so we know we have something we can work with and make our car be real good at Las Vegas," said Herbert, from Cherryville, N.C.   "I don't see any reason why we can't win at least one of the last two races this year."

Herbert has not, however, enjoyed much success at The Strip in four previous visits.  He's gone home after the first round in three of the four.  He won his only round in the April race here last season.  But that is, as he says, history.  

"Wes Cerny (tuning consultant) and Johnny (West, crew chief) have a good tune-up," Herbert noted.  "We had a clutch problem in the second round at Texas that hurt us.  I hope we can keep winning rounds - like four in a row on Sunday."

      Herbert has qualified for all 21 races and has already secured a berth in the Nov. 9 Budweiser Top Fuel Shootout at Pomona, Calif.  The elite field is comprised of eight drivers earning the most qualifying points awarded during the first 22 events.                 Herbert goes into Las Vegas in seventh place with 2850 points, 70 more than No. 8 Darrell Russell, and should secure the position by out-qualifying Russell or finishing within 12 places for Sunday's eliminations.

The Shootout winner will take home a $100,000 bonus, a sum that brings a smile from Herbert.  It is the second-largest payout of the season, overshadowed only by the $400,000 going to the Top Fuel series champion.

He still has a flickering opportunity to climb into sixth place - a possible career high.   Herbert, seventh overall, trails Russell by 70 points (1252-1182), roughly four rounds of racing, and only eight rounds remain.  He did move into sixth place by 11 points (815-811) over Doug Kalitta in the finals at Sonoma in August, but Kalitta has won three of the last four events and moved into third overall.

-jls-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert