Pomona 2: Herbert wins

Snap-On Racing Report . . . Doug Herbert Beats Gary Scelzi In 50th Anniversary Nationals Finals For First Top Fuel Victory Since October 1999 POMONA, Calif., July 7, 2001 - Doug Herbert and the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster team returned to...

Snap-On Racing Report . . .

Doug Herbert Beats Gary Scelzi In 50th Anniversary Nationals Finals For First Top Fuel Victory Since October 1999

POMONA, Calif., July 7, 2001 - Doug Herbert and the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster team returned to the winner's circle Saturday night when Herbert beat Gary Scelzi in the finals of NHRA's 50th Anniversary race at Pomona Raceway.

The jubilant Herbert, who grew up in a drag racing family in nearby Villa Park in Orange County, parlayed a little bit of racing luck - something he hasn't seen much of in 2001 - and back-to-back 4.6-second runs to notch his sixth career victory in this one-of-a-kind event. His best run of the race, 4.600 seconds at 320.58 mph, beat Scelzi, the race's No. 1 qualifier who'd run the weekend's quickest time (4.551 seconds) in the semifinals. Traction problems slowed Scelzi to a 5.574 at 305.42 mph.

"We were sure hungry for this one," Herbert said of his first Southern California win. "I've been around drag racing all my life and this is the first time I've won a race at Pomona. I've had some good times here and some bad times. I was the second driver to go 300 (mph) and I did it here in 1993."

Herbert, who now lives in Cherryville, N.C., had gone 38 races and 21 months since his last victory (Memphis, October 10, 1999).

"It was frustrating to go that long (without a win)," he added. "But we got a little bit of luck during eliminations. You have to be lucky to win one of these races. (Crew chief) Larry Frazier did a great job, making all the right tune-up calls."

Herbert's good fortune came in the first two rounds, when track conditions were at their worst, thanks to the hot summer weather. Herbert's engine only ran on seven cylinders in his first-round decision over Gary Clapshaw, slowing his time to 4.887 seconds, but Clapshaw had problems too. In the second round, a fuel line fitting broke and eventually caused a blower explosion. Herbert's dragster limped across the finish line in 6.083 seconds, but it was good enough to beat Andrew Cowin's tire smoking 6.384.

Track conditions improved considerably for the final two rounds because the sun was setting and the temperature dropped accordingly.

Herbert was able to climb closer to seventh-place Tony Schumacher in Winston Series standings. He now trails his rival by only nine points, 690-681, with 11 races remaining.

Qualified: No. 6, 4.618 at seconds at 317.12 mph.

First round: Herbert, 4.887 at 264.03 def. Gary Clapshaw; Quarterfinals: Herbert, 6.083 at 151.92 def. Andrew Cowin; Semifinals: Herbert, 4.634 at 320.51 def. Darrell Russell; Finals: Herbert, 4.600 at 320.58 def. Gary Scelzi.

Race winners: Doug Herbert, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Pro Stock.

-SOR-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Andrew Cowin