Herbert has seen it all at Heartland Park Topeka LINCOLNTON, N.C. (May 25, 2005) -- Any racer who has been around the block a few times can conjure up stories of all kinds when the name of any track is mentioned. They all have a good story, some...
Herbert has seen it all at Heartland Park Topeka
LINCOLNTON, N.C. (May 25, 2005) -- Any racer who has been around the block a few times can conjure up stories of all kinds when the name of any track is mentioned. They all have a good story, some have a great story and some even have that one story that will make you wince with pain or cry with laughter.
Doug Herbert has all of those stories when it comes to Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kan., the site of this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals. Herbert, driver of the Snap-on Tools dragster, made his professional debut at an NHRA event in 1991. He's been blazing down the quarter-mile tracks all over the nation ever since.
Topeka is one of his favorite -- and least favorite -- venues on the schedule.
"We won here in 1999, beating my buddy Joe Amato in the final," Herbert said. "That was a great memory and something that makes you want to come back to a track. But we also had one of the worst crashes in history there. The crash was in 1993 and it was a real, real bad one. People don't remember that one as well because it was so long ago, but it was one of the worst days in my racing career. That crash rung my bell good."
As Herbert prepares for qualifying on Friday (pro sessions at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.) he is aiming to forget about the past completely and focus on this season.
"Sometimes a win in the past will help you with confidence and data from the track," Herbert said. "A lot of things have changed since our last victory at Topeka, so now we just have to figure out how to improve from last weekend's performance."
The Summer Nationals is the final of three consecutive races. It was the first three-race swing of the 2005 POWERade season. But Herbert won't be taking any time off.
"We lost in the first round at Atlanta to start the swing off poorly," he said. "Then we won a round last weekend in Columbus. Now we need to win two rounds and show that we are capable of improving on our mistakes.
"We won't be back at the shop during the weekend off. We'll be in Englishtown (N.J.) for a match race. Winning a couple of rounds in Topeka would be a great way to start the trip to Englishtown."
ESPN and ESPN2 will provide coverage of the Memorial Day weekend's action. ESPN will air qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET) on Saturday before ESPN2 kicks off Sunday coverage at 11:30 a.m. (ET) with NHRA2Day before final eliminations are shown at 8 p.m. (ET).