Reading: Herbert makes the semi-finals

READING, Pa., Sept. 17, 2000 - For a driver who has lacked racing luck for much of this 2000 NHRA Winston Series season, Doug Herbert was happy to take the good fortune that came his way Sunday in the Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove ...

READING, Pa., Sept. 17, 2000 - For a driver who has lacked racing luck for much of this 2000 NHRA Winston Series season, Doug Herbert was happy to take the good fortune that came his way Sunday in the Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Herbert, who had not won a round of racing here in his career, advanced to the semifinals here before falling to Gary Scelzi. And, the driver of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster acknowledged, he did have a little good luck for a change.

After dispatching a tire-smoking David Grubnic in the first round, Herbert watched as his quarterfinal opponent, Melanie Troxel, inadvertently deployed her car's parachutes while backing up from the burnout and had to drive to the finish line. Herbert staged the car and left on his solo run but the tires smoked and he shut off the engine, coasting through with a 7.455 at 131.47 mph.

"We'll take them anyway we can," Herbert said with a smile. "We made a few clutch and engine changes this weekend and got down the track. Hey, it's always fun to get to the semifinals."

In the semis, Herbert left the line first (.472 to .502) and was neck-and-neck with Scelzi until about mid-track when the Snap-on dragster spun the tires and Herbert took his foot off the throttle. Scelzi won with a 4.634 at 308.57 to Herbert's 5.463 at 172.47.

Herbert's good weekend actually began during qualifying, his 4.6130-second run (at 316.97 mph) was his second best of the season, and it put him No. 6 beginning eliminations. He also had a 4.658, shutting off early during another qualifying run.

Herbert remained ninth and kept pace with eighth-place Bob Vandergriff Jr., who also went to the semis. Herbert trails Vandergriff by 23 points, 765-788.

Herbert will join Snap-on Racing teammate Jim Bailey to compete in the IHRA CARQUEST Autumn Nationals, Thursday through Saturday, at Rockingham, N.C. Herbert is the defending race champion and he beat Bailey in the finals.

Only five NHRA events remain, and the next two - at Topeka, Kan., and Memphis - come back-to-back, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and Oct. 6-8.

Qualified: No. 6, 4.613 at 306.95 mph. First round: Herbert, 5.074 at 251.67 def. David Grubnic, 13.349 at 55.95; Quarterfinals: Herbert, 7.455 at 131.47 def. Melanie Troxel; Semifinals: Gary Scelzi def. Herbert. <pre> Pro Winners: Top Fuel - Joe Amato Funny Car - Bruce Sarver Pro Stock - Kurt Johnson Next Event: Advance Auto Parts Nationals, Topeka, Kan, Sept. 29-Oct. 1

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Bruce Sarver , Kurt Johnson , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , David Grubnic , Melanie Troxel , Bob Vandergriff