Phoenix: Doug Herbert preview

Herbert, Snap-on Team confident. CHANDLER, Ariz., February 14, 2003 - Okay, so Doug Herbert didn't win the Winternationals or register the weekend's quickest elapsed time. Does he care? Well, he most certainly wanted to take home the winner's...

Herbert, Snap-on Team confident.

CHANDLER, Ariz., February 14, 2003 - Okay, so Doug Herbert didn't win the Winternationals or register the weekend's quickest elapsed time. Does he care?

Well, he most certainly wanted to take home the winner's trophy, but Herbert's performance was a confidence booster to him and his Snap-on Racing Top Fuel team. Herbert, in fact, was enthusiastic about the racecar's consistency and its competitive promise.

That's what Herbert, crew chief Ron Douglas and tuning consultant Jim Brissette will take with them to Firebird Raceway, Feb. 21-23, for the NHRA Checkers Schuck's Kragen Nationals.

"We had fun at Pomona (Calif., site of the Winternationals) while it lasted," Herbert remarked. "It just didn't last as long as we hoped it would, but we liked what we saw and we want to continue it at Firebird. We made quite a few runs there during preseason testing and ran pretty well.

"We changed a lot of things for this season and we're still looking for the comfort level in tuning the car. That's why we're looking forward to going back to Phoenix."

And while a freak mechanical failure did cut short his race day in the Winternationals quarterfinals, it didn't send him back to his Cherryville, N.C. home in a funk. Consistency was there in the form of three 4.6-second runs during qualifying, the best of 4.611 putting him in the seventh starting position. His slowest time was 4.861 seconds and came in a first-round loss to Larry Dixon in the Bud Shootout, that was run on Saturday.

"Ron and Brissette had a good handle on the tune-up, and we were just starting to get better when something got loose in the engine and struck the two spark plugs in the No. 8 hole," said Herbert of his aborted lap against Clay Millican. "When that happened it closed the spark plug gap and the engine blew."

Herbert's dragster slowed to a snail's pace, crossing the finish line in 13.030 seconds at 55.87 mph, a far cry from the 4.588-second run at 318.69 the car flashed in his first-round victory over David Baca. His time was third quickest of the round.

"We weren't able to find the piece of metal that got into the engine so we don't know where it came from," commented Herbert. "We believe it was a freak deal and it won't happen again."

Herbert comes to Arizona tied for sixth place with 53 points. He's 63 behind defending champion Larry Dixon with 22 races to go. Herbert, who has been seventh the last two seasons, wants to be in title contention until the Auto Finals ends it in November.

"We are going to stay and test on the Monday after the race," Herbert said. "We feel now is the time to test rather than in mid-season when you might not be in championship contention. My Snap-on team is going to give 110 percent to make sure we take advantage of every opportunity available. It will be worth it if we have a chance to win the championship."

Herbert will get four qualifying runs - 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday - before Sunday's 11 a.m. finals.

-sor-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican , Larry Dixon , David Baca