Reading2: Doug Herbert preview

READING, Pa., Sept. 30, 2003 - A sportswriter once said drag racing is the only sport he knew where the fans cheered the scoreboard. And he was right. No one has been cheering the scoreboard lately when Doug Herbert's Snap-on Top Fuel dragster...

READING, Pa., Sept. 30, 2003 - A sportswriter once said drag racing is the only sport he knew where the fans cheered the scoreboard.

And he was right.

No one has been cheering the scoreboard lately when Doug Herbert's Snap-on Top Fuel dragster runs, not even Herbert and his troops. And the Cherryville, N.C., driver knows why. The elapsed times certainly haven't warranted it.

He does want all his fans to know that those times will be changing - hopefully as soon as Saturday when he makes another qualifying run when the rain-delayed Lucas Oil Nationals resumes at Maple Grove Raceway.

Herbert, tuner Wes Cerny and the crew were extremely disappointed when they failed to qualify for Sunday's CarQuest Nationals at Joliet, Ill. Rain washed out Friday's two qualifying session, ones that were important to the team.

"Wes changed the fuel pump and fuel system when we got to Joliet and we just needed to make those runs," lamented Herbert. "Our car will run good; it just doesn't show on the scoreboard. We are all judged out here by what's on the scoreboard."

Getting a baseline for the new combination is a sometimes sticky situation. There's no handbook telling how many runs will be necessary or if the changes will work.

Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Herbert and the Snap-on crew went to Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis Wednesday to test the new combination.

"We made a couple of squirts and learned some more about it," Herbert said. "I'll tell you one thing, the motor is making a lot of power."

Herbert and Cerny hope to put the horsepower to good use during Saturday's noon and 3:30 p.m. qualifying runs.

There is some good news, though. Herbert will be in Sunday's 11 a.m. starting line-up. He ran 4.593 seconds at 300.20 mph on the lone qualifying attempt that was completed before rain forced postponement from Sept. 14 to Oct. 5 and sits seventh overall. It's virtually impossible for him to be bumped from the 16-car field.

"We definitely want to make two competitive runs Saturday so Wes will have a better idea of what to expect Sunday," Herbert added. "Wes is confident about what he's doing, and I am, too. His theory is that he doesn't want to run 4.50s and blow up parts. His goal is to run 4.40s and not blow up. Everything he's doing makes a lot of sense."

Herbert remains eighth in NHRA POWERade Series points with 787, 47 behind John Smith. Tony Schumacher has the provisional qualifying lead here on the strength of his 4.465-second run from Sept. 12.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Tony Schumacher