Richmond Doug Herbert want to improve at Richmond

DINWIDDIE, Va. - The busiest segment of NHRA's 2000 schedule is fast approaching, and Doug Herbert couldn't be happier. "I think we need to be racing so we can get our combination figured out to see if we can race with the guys ahead of us...

DINWIDDIE, Va. - The busiest segment of NHRA's 2000 schedule is fast approaching, and Doug Herbert couldn't be happier. "I think we need to be racing so we can get our combination figured out to see if we can race with the guys ahead of us (in the standings)," said Herbert, driver of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster. "Larry Frazier (crew chief), Dave Settles (technology advisor) and the crew have worked hard to get us running consistently." NHRA's new 90-percent nitromethane fuel rule forced all crew chiefs to throw out previous data and begin gathering new information. They've already had five Winston Series races (contested over 11 weeks) and pre-season testing to find consistency. A streak of five races in six weeks is just ahead, beginning with the Moto1.net Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, south of Richmond. "I like racing when the events are closer together," Herbert commented. "I've been used to racing every week. We've made changes at every race and I think we're getting closer to where we need to be with the combination. We saw some things that worked in our last two races (at Las Vegas and Houston) and made changes. We want to put our Snap-on dragster at the top of the heap and the only way to get there is to have the performance that will allow us to be there." Herbert, Frazier and Settles know they have something on which to build. After a very consistent qualifying effort at Houston (April 16), Herbert enjoyed his best competitive results of the year, advancing to the semifinals. The car posted qualifying runs of 4.718, 4.681 and 4.667 seconds, putting Herbert eighth in the field. The 4.667 was his quickest of the season and he added his fastest speed of the millennium (318.39 mph) while beating Rhonda Hartman-Smith in the first round. Herbert eliminated top qualifier Kenny Bernstein in the quarterfinals with a 4.749 at 314.61 mph before coming up short against 2000 nemesis and eventual race winner Larry Dixon. "We tuned it up for the Dixon race," Herbert said. "We knew we had to. He ran good (4.627 at 320.58 mph) and we had traction problems. "We learned a lot in the Vegas-Houston back-to-back races," he continued. "I think the tracks at Richmond and Atlanta (site of the Advance Auto Parts Nationals, May 4-7) could be slick. That's the great equalizer. And I don't think anybody has the 90-percent rule totally figured out. Heck, we've had five different Top Fuel winners in the first five races, what does that tell you?" Herbert is eighth in points with 225, five behind Cory McClenathan and 71 behind sixth-place Doug Kalitta. Herbert plans to make it a two-car Snap-on attack at Richmond. Jim Bailey, driver of Herbert's IHRA Top Fuel dragster, will be making his second NHRA event of the year. He qualified at Phoenix in February in his first NHRA appearance in almost 10 years. "We need to get Bailey's car running better and the team needed a place to test, so it just made sense to enter the car at Richmond," said Herbert. "We have seven weeks off between races on the IHRA schedule, so this will give our team a chance to keep the rust off," added Bailey, from Mantua, Ohio. "It's also important for us because our combination is so different that we need to make runs. This gives us the opportunity to be on a good track and use it as a test session." After taking off May 13 and 14, Herbert and the rest of the NHRA racers compete in back-to-back events at Englishtown, N.J. (May 19-21), Dallas (May 26-28) and Chicago (June 2-4).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan