Madison: Doug Herbert preview

Doug Herbert, The Hulk team up for Sears Nationals at St. Louis ST. LOUIS, June 23, 2003 - In what could best be described as DougZilla meets the Hulk, Doug Herbert will be driving a special racecar paint scheme of The Hulk, the summer...

Doug Herbert, The Hulk team up for Sears Nationals at St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, June 23, 2003 - In what could best be described as DougZilla meets the Hulk, Doug Herbert will be driving a special racecar paint scheme of The Hulk, the summer blockbuster film, on his Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster at the Sears Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in nearby Madison, Ill., June 27-29.

Herbert's familiar orange, white and black dragster will be decked out in purple with a green likeness of the Hulk ready for the nighttime race, the first to be completed under the lights since the NHRA's 50th Anniversary event at Pomona, Calif., three years ago, which, incidentally, Herbert won.

This also is the second time this event has been run at night. The other was in 1999 when Herbert advanced the semifinals, his best finish in his six appearances at Gateway.

"Our Hulk car looks pretty good," said Herbert, who, at 6-4 and 220 pounds, is the tallest and heaviest Top Fuel driver in the top 10. "I guess someone figured the Hulk resembled me. When I get mad, though, I usually turn red, but green is OK.

"We'd like to be able to use some of Hulk's powers to get our car into the winner's circle," Herbert continued. "It has been a pretty frustrating season so far."

This race, the 12th of 23, signals the end of the first half of the POWERade Series season and Herbert is happy to see it end.

"If I was grading our performance, I'd give us a C," said Herbert, who slipped from fourth to eighth place during a miserable four races May when he didn't win a round of racing and had a 59-race streak end when he didn't qualify at Joliet, Ill., May 31.

"There were times when we showed we could run with anybody, but we didn't back it up with consistency. We know what we have to do; we just haven't been doing it."

Herbert spent time talking about solutions with crew chief Ron Douglas and tuning advisor Jim Brissette. "We've analyzed what we did wrong and we've come up with different procedures for putting the car back together and we are being more thorough going through our tuning procedure," the Cherryville, N.C., businessman-racer added.

"What it gets down to, plain and simple, is that we need to win some races. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win the championship. Right now, our goal is to finish in the top five. We need to finish in the top five."

Actually, Herbert's 533 points put him five behind No. 7 John Smith and 69 - just over three rounds of racing - behind No. 5 Cory McClenathan's 602. Brandon Bernstein is fourth with 629, but he's injured and won't be returning any time soon.

Herbert moved up to fourth place with a runner-up at Bristol, Tenn., April 27. However, he lost in the first round at the next three races and then didn't qualify at Joliet.

"We can turn this thing around," he said. "We need to buckle down and get tough . . . starting at St. Louis."

A little extra assistance from the Hulk probably wouldn't hurt, either.

"The Hulk character has long been a favorite among comic book collectors and fans and even after 40 years, the Hulk shows little signs of slowing down," said Fred W. Wagenhals, Action's chairman, president and CEO. "Though the Hulk can be destructive at times, I expect that the controlled chaos of a racetrack will be the ideal scenario to capitalize on the Hulk's menacing nature."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Cory McClenathan , Brandon Bernstein