Seattle Doug Herbert Likes Return to sea Level

HERBERT HOPES RETURN TO 'NORMAL' RACING CONDITIONS BRINGS MORE ROUND WINS FOR SNAP-ON DRAGSTER AT NORTHWEST NATIONALS SEATTLE - Doug Herbert likes the idea of racing again at sea level, during the day, in temperatures that won't be bloated by...

HERBERT HOPES RETURN TO 'NORMAL' RACING CONDITIONS BRINGS MORE ROUND WINS FOR SNAP-ON DRAGSTER AT NORTHWEST NATIONALS

SEATTLE - Doug Herbert likes the idea of racing again at sea level, during the day, in temperatures that won't be bloated by high humidity.

"We've been in a rut and it's time to get out of it," said Herbert, driver of the Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster and one of seven drivers involved in a tight championship fight. The rut Herbert speaks of is a two-race NHRA Winston Series span in which he has suffered first-round losses. Add his opening-round exit in the non-points Winston Showdown and it makes three straight early setbacks.

That's why he's looking forward to the Prolong Northwest Nationals, July 30-Aug. 1, at Seattle International Raceway.

"We've raced at night at St. Louis and Bristol (Tenn.) and in the altitude of Denver, so this will be our first race in normal conditions in awhile," added Herbert, who won the last "normal" event, at Columbus, Ohio, June 13. "The St. Louis race didn't get started until 7 (p.m., due to a rain delay) and at Bristol we raced against Funny Cars (in the non-points Winston Showdown). We've done a lot better in standard conditions this year."

The Cherryville, N.C. driver has two victories in four final round appearances thus far. His win at Columbus left him second in points with 690, 61 behind leader Mike Dunn. Ironically, he is closer to Dunn now than he was last month, but Herbert has slipped to third place. Dunn, meanwhile, has struggled a bit, too, losing in the first round of the last three series events. He has 814 points to 770 for Kenny Bernstein and 759 for Herbert.

"We have to win some rounds," says Herbert, "if we are going to stay among the leaders. We hope to make the second half of the season more like the first half. No one has a big advantage in the championship race, which is good.

"I've done fairly well at Seattle. I set the track speed record in 1992 (297.71 mph) that held until 1995 when Scott Kalitta broke it."

Kalitta's crew chief then was Dick LaHaie, who now holds a similar position with Herbert's Snap-on team.

Paul Romine upset Herbert in the first round at Denver (July 18) when an exhaust lifter in the engine broke. "When that happened, it just confused everything in the engine," LaHaie said. "Eventually all of the spark plugs were burned off and the engine just quit. That was just one of the 10,000 ways to lose a race."

Northwest Nationals qualifying is scheduled at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations Sunday begin at 11 a.m.

Doug Herbert Facts:

Age: 31 Hometown: Cherryville, N.C.

Career Final-round record: 3-6 1999 Final rounds: 2-2 Last Win: Columbus, Ohio, June 13, 1999

Quickest time: 4.551 seconds (3/99, Gainesville, Fla.) Fastest speed: 321.65 mph (4/99, Houston)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Scott Kalitta , Dick LaHaie