HERBERT, FRAZIER, SNAP-ON TEAM WIN DELAYED TOPEKA RACE; LOOK FOR SECOND STRAIGHT WIN AT MEMPHIS THIS WEEKEND MEMPHIS - Doug Herbert was all smiles Monday. And he deserved to be. After waiting seven long races to win a round in NHRA ...
HERBERT, FRAZIER, SNAP-ON TEAM WIN DELAYED TOPEKA RACE; LOOK FOR SECOND STRAIGHT WIN AT MEMPHIS THIS WEEKEND
MEMPHIS - Doug Herbert was all smiles Monday. And he deserved to be. After waiting seven long races to win a round in NHRA competition, Herbert and the Snap-on Top Fuel dragster crew returned to their winning ways Monday at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan. They won more than one round. They won them all.
In the process, Herbert:
· Claimed his third Winston Series victory of the season while boosting his final round appearances to five;
· Gave himself a great 32nd birthday gift one day early;
· Prevented runner-up Joe Amato from taking the Top Fuel point lead;
· Reinvigorated his title aspirations, jumping from 10th to seventh in the tightest title fight in history.
Not only that, Herbert won't need to wait too long before putting his four-round win streak on the line. The AutoZone Nationals NHRA event runs Friday through Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Ironically, the last time Herbert won a round, it was the final round of a June 13 race in Columbus, Ohio. The good news during that dry spell was that he did qualify for every event. On the opposite side, he fell from second to 10th in the standings.
"Larry Frazier (crew chief) and the team are really pumped up with the win," Herbert said. "We're looking forward to getting to Memphis. We're only 16 points out of fifth place and 52 out of fourth. With only four races left (in the season), we want to move up as high in points as we can. We still have a shot at the championship if we find a little bit more performance in the racecar and from the driver."
Herbert and Frazier plan to use the same tact in Memphis as was employed at Topeka - go down the track on every run and run consistently. "It's nice when a plan comes together," Herbert commented. "The win felt really, really good, especially because I had to beat Tony Schumacher and Amato to get it."
Schumacher is the series point leader with 1164 while Amato is a five-time winner this year - including a decision over Herbert at Englishtown, N.J. in May - who has 1150 points and could've taken the lead with a win.
Add extremely cold weather to the competitive mix and it was quite a weekend, plus one day, at Topeka.
Temperatures dropped at least 25 degrees from Friday to Saturday, from 75 to 50, and it was colder on race day. But persistent drizzle finally forced the race's completion to be moved to Monday.
The change of days didn't bother Herbert or Frazier, in just his third race as the Snap-on crew chief. Herbert beat Cory McClenathan on Sunday, 4.636 seconds at 304.67 mph to 7.464 at 95.29, then continued his march Monday when he left the starting line first en route to wins over Eddie Hill, Schumacher and Amato.
Herbert, from Cherryville, N.C., definitely was on his driving game, and he needed it in the semifinals against Schumacher. Herbert left first with a .434 reaction time (.400 is perfect) and beat Schumacher's quicker 4.597 at 319.82 with a 4.661 at 310.63. The difference was Schumacher's .526 reaction.
In the finals, Herbert won with a 4.664 at 312.35 to Amato's tire smoking 7.519 at 110.14.
"I've been able to really concentrate and focus at the starting line," Herbert said. "Everything seems to be coming together on our team. I was happy that Larry was able to get the win and be named crew chief of the race. We are working well together."
Herbert now has four career wins in 10 finals. He came into this season with a 1-5 record.