Phoenix: Leaner look for Herbert

PHOENIX, Feb. 13, 2001 - Doug Herbert is on a diet and the rest of the Top Fuel field should be aware. The last time Herbert lost weight he won four races and finished second twice. That would've been 1999 when the driver of the Snap-on...

PHOENIX, Feb. 13, 2001 - Doug Herbert is on a diet and the rest of the Top Fuel field should be aware. The last time Herbert lost weight he won four races and finished second twice. That would've been 1999 when the driver of the Snap-on Racing dragster enjoyed his finest NHRA season. He challenged for the championship until midway through the campaign before a string of first-round setbacks dropped him from contention. This time around he and crew chief Larry Frazier have taken weight off the car "and now I have to lose drop about 20 pounds, too," Herbert said. "My only problem is that I get cranky when I'm on a diet. It isn't much fun, but if we have a year like we did in 1999 it will all be worth it." Herbert is determined to improve upon his 2000 performance and return to the winner's circle. He's already tested three times and the 24-race Winston Series is only one race old. The Cherryville, N.C. driver was in the Phoenix area last weekend testing at Speed World. This week he's back in the Valley of the Sun, only at Firebird Raceway, where he'll be competing in the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals Friday through Sunday. "We changed a lot of parts - cam shafts, blowers, manifolds, fuel pumps, just a lot of stuff - so we wanted to try to figure out the tune-up," he said. "We didn't want to make all those changes and then go to the race because we could've really screwed things up. We made six runs to about 300 feet at Speed World and were happy with the way things went. "It took us a couple of runs to sort things out, but then things got better," Herbert added. "It was encouraging. Now we can use what we learned at Speed World when we get to Firebird." Herbert, who added veteran tuner Wes Cerny to the Snap-on crew as a consultant, began the season on an upbeat note during the Winternationals at Pomona, Calif. (Feb. 1-4). His 4.608-second qualifying time not only placed him fourth on the qualifying ladder but it was his quickest time in 18 months. His best in 2000 was 4.609 seconds at Houston. On race day, Herbert had a .063 of a second lead on first-round opponent Bobby Baldwin when the Snap-on dragster began spinning the tires about half-track. The loss of traction slowed Herbert and permitted Baldwin to pass him for the win. "It was very disappointing," Herbert admitted, "but, all-in-all it we were pretty happy with the way our dragster ran during the weekend. The car was going right down the track when it suddenly began smoking the tires. There might've been a little oil on the track (from a car that had run before Herbert) that wasn't cleaned up. Circumstances just got us." The result left Herbert ninth in points - the same spot where he finished last year - and hungry for another win. There is room for improvement and he hopes it begins at Firebird Raceway this weekend.

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Doug Herbert Facts:

Age: 33 Hometown: Cherryville, N.C.

Career final-round record: 5-11 2000 final rounds: None

Quickest 2000 time: 4.609 seconds (6/4, Joliet, Ill.); Fastest 2000 speed: 318.39 mph (4/16, Houston)

Career best time: 4.551 seconds (3/99, Gainesville, Fla.) Career fastest speed: 321.65 mph (4/99, Houston)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert