Â Â Sonoma, Calif., Aug. 1, 2001 - There's a reason Doug Herbert is smiling these days. His Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster is winning rounds on the NHRA's three-race western swing. Â Â With races at Denver and Seattle completed, Herbert...
Sonoma, Calif., Aug. 1, 2001 - There's a reason Doug Herbert is smiling these days. His Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster is winning rounds on the NHRA's three-race western swing.
With races at Denver and Seattle completed, Herbert has notched three round wins - two at Denver and one at Seattle. That's three more than he's totaled in the last three years at the same two tracks.
His focus now is on the Fram Autolite Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at Sears Point Raceway, where he's been blanked the past three years, too.
"We need to keep running good," said Herbert, winner of the NHRA's 50th Anniversary race (July 7). "Our car is going down the track a lot better lately so we know we're in the ballpark as far as our tune-up goes. We know we would have a tough time winning the championship, but our goal is to win some more races and, since Sonoma is next, that would be the place to start.
"One thing (crew chief Larry) Frazier and I see is that we are learning something at every race now that helps us in our tune-ups. We are making progress and it shows."
Statistics verify Herbert's comments. He won eight rounds of racing in the season's first 12 races. He's already won seven rounds in three outings in the second half and there are nine races to go.
The performance has carried him into seventh place with 806 points, and he doesn't want to stop there. His goal is a top five finish. "To do that, we really need to go to the semifinals at each race," he said. "With the way our car is running, we should be able to do that."
Herbert might've been able to get to the semis Sunday at Seattle but he had the misfortune of squaring off against Gary Scelzi in the quarterfinals. Herbert's Snap-on dragster uncorked its best run of the weekend, 4.595 seconds at 311.49 mph, only to lose to Scelzi's 4.540 at 319.82.
"You can't feel too bad when you run good and lose," the Cherryville, N.C. driver said. "If we'd qualified better, we wouldn't have raced Scelzi in the second round."
It was, however, the second time this year Herbert wound up on the losing end after running a 4.59. The first was at Joliet, Ill., in June when his 4.599 wasn't good enough to beat Kenny Bernstein's 4.533.
Excellent atmospheric conditions resulted in low elapsed times - as evidenced by the Scelzi-Herbert quarterfinal race - during the weekend at Seattle International Raceway. Herbert's 4.609-second, 315.56-mph qualifying run was only good enough for eighth place.
He defeated Tim Gibson in the first round with a 4.732 at 255.48 even though the engine expired before the finish line. "A fuel line broke on that run and the explosion hurt the blower, injector and manifold," Herbert noted.
Herbert's replacement parts worked just fine on the run against Scelzi, who went on to win the race. They just didn't work as well as Scelzi's.