Topeka: Herbert, Snap-on Team preview

Herbert, Snap-on Team Still Qualify Well but They're Looking For More Round Wins at Heartland Park TOPEKA, Kan., May 21, 2001 - In the season's first eight Winston Series races, Doug Herbert has qualified among the top six seven times. He's ...

Herbert, Snap-on Team Still Qualify Well but They're Looking For More Round Wins at Heartland Park

TOPEKA, Kan., May 21, 2001 - In the season's first eight Winston Series races, Doug Herbert has qualified among the top six seven times. He's begun eliminations from as high as second place and as low as 12th.

His Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster has run well during qualifying, as his NHRA season-bests of 4.582 seconds at 319.14 mph (at Las Vegas) attest. Another barometer of Herbert's qualifying success is he is sixth in Budweiser Shootout standings, where points are awarded by starting position at each race. And the top eight square off in November to compete for a $100,000 first prize.

Herbert is grateful for all of that, but he continues to be frustrated by the fact that on race day, his qualifying consistency hasn't correlated into round victories and race wins.

He goes to Heartland Park Topeka this weekend hopeful crew chief Larry Frazier and the team have come up with a combination that will bring Sunday smiles.

"It's frustrating. It's aggravating. It's maddening," commented Herbert. "Our car runs great in qualifying, but we need to figure out a race-day combination . . . soon."

By Sunday, at least, if Herbert plans to improve on his current No. 8 berth in the standings. He goes into the Advance Auto Parts Nationals with 376 points, 73 behind seventh-place Tony Schumacher and 85 behind Gary Scelzi, who's sixth.

Herbert won at Heartland Park in 1999, one of his four victories that year, so he knows where the winner's circle is.

"When (track) conditions go from better to worse, we don't have the combination figured out," said Herbert. "It's disappointing, that's for sure. When we run good (in qualifying) and we know we have the potential to win rounds and races. We have to start showing we can do it (on Sunday)."

Herbert's latest frustration came last weekend at Englishtown, N.J. With the weather cooler, Herbert recorded times of 4.604 and 4.622 seconds. Only top qualifier Kenny Bernstein did better (4.561 seconds).

Sunday, however, traction trouble set in. The Snap-on dragster's tires smoked during his first-round race against Bobby Lagana, but Herbert won easily when Lagana had mechanical problems. Herbert, who shut off early, coasted across with a 6.101 at 269.03 mph.

In the quarterfinals against Doug Kalitta, Herbert fouled out with a red-light start and Kalitta won with a 4.569 at 322.11.

"I rolled in deeper than I wanted to at the starting line," said Herbert. "I don't know what happened but we did push out the (engine's) head gaskets on the run. We wouldn't have beaten him with the time he ran." <pre> Doug Herbert Facts: Age: 33 Hometown: Cherryville, N.C.

Career final-round record: 5-11 2001 final rounds: None

Quickest 2001 time: 4.582 seconds (4/6, Las Vegas); Fastest 2001 speed: 319.14 mph (4/6, Las Vegas)

Career best time: 4.551 seconds (3/99, Gainesville, Fla.) Career fastest speed: 321.65 mph (4/99, Houston)

-ST-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta