Memphis: Doug Herbert preview

Herbert, Snap-on Team look forward to Mid-South Nationals following good run at rain-delayed Lucas Oil Event MEMPHIS, Sept. 16, 2003 - Stung by not qualifying for the rain-delayed U.S. Nationals, Wes Cerny spent race day making numerous changes...

Herbert, Snap-on Team look forward to Mid-South Nationals following good run at rain-delayed Lucas Oil Event

MEMPHIS, Sept. 16, 2003 - Stung by not qualifying for the rain-delayed U.S. Nationals, Wes Cerny spent race day making numerous changes to Doug Herbert's Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster.

There were gremlins in the tune-up and this was the only way the veteran tuner could attack the problem or problems. Was it akin to looking for a needle in a haystack?

"It was more like looking for a needle attached to a mouse that was running around in the haystack and you can't catch him," answered Cerny. "We see him every now and then, but we haven't been able to catch him . . . yet. We worked hard on catching him. We changed a lot of equipment and have seen some improvements in what we want to do, but the end result hasn't been satisfying yet either."

Well, judging from Herbert's only qualifying run at the rain-delayed Lucas Oil Nationals at Reading, Pa., Friday night, Cerny and the Snap-on crew rubbed out the flaws with a 4.593-second effort that put him solidly in the 16-car field at No. 7.

Now everyone knows one run doesn't a season make, but this one had the most positive results in the last nine races, and it left all of them confident Herbert will be a contender at the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Friday through Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park.

"It was great to run good again," Herbert said after a steady rain washed out the second straight POWERade Series event. "We were confident we would've run better on our next run at Reading, but we didn't get a chance. Now we'll just go to Memphis and keep up the pace."

Herbert has one win at Memphis, that coming in 1999, oddly enough, during a rain-plagued event.

"We didn't hurt any parts on that one run at Reading," added Herbert, who noted he shut it off early just to be safe. "It could've run a 4.57 or so, but it looks like we have our problems sorted out. Wes and the crew made pretty substantial changes and the car is running much better."

The 4.59-second time was the Cherryville, N.C., driver's quickest over the last nine races and four months. During that span, Herbert dropped from fourth to eighth in points with 745. Should the Snap-on crew get on a hot streak, Herbert could easily move up as high as fifth place. Cory McClenathan holds that spot with 832 points.

"Finishing fifth gives us something to shoot for the rest of this season," said Herbert. "And we will be trying to fine-tune our new setup so we can be ready to go after the 2004 championship when the season begins in February."

First things first, of course, and that begins with Mid-South Nationals qualifying Friday at 4 and 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

Herbert Continues Raising Funds for Injured Driver

It's been almost 18 months since veteran driver Billy Williams suffered serious head injuries in an accident during an International Hot Rod Association race at Rockingham, N.C. He remains in a coma in a Cleveland-area hospital.

And Doug Herbert continues his efforts to raise funds to defray the huge medical costs his friend has incurred. He does it through sales of his DougZilla t-shirt, a theme begun a year ago following a starting line disagreement with Clay Millican at Reading.

"I'm still sending (Williams' wife) Diane money," said Herbert. "I've sent thousands of dollars to help cut down the bills. I'd have to say thank you to the fans. They have been so supportive and continue to support our efforts."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican
Teams Williams