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Herbert geared up for Denver

DENVER— Doug Herbert can truthfully say the second half of the 2004 POWERade Series season will be all downhill following the Mopar Mile-High Nationals, Friday through Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.
Because this is the only track with an elevation in excess of 5,000 feet – to the delight of every Top Fuel and Funny Car tuner – Herbert is speaking only of altitude, of course. Now is the time he wants to see the performance of his Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster improve dramatically.
Tuner Ed “Ace” McCulloch and the crew “have been working hard and they’ve made a lot of mechanical changes Ed thought were necessary to make the car run better,” said Herbert. “Denver is a difficult race anyway, because of the altitude, and now this is the first race where we’ll be using some of the new rules changes NHRA implemented. It will make things very interesting this weekend for everyone.”
A new rear tire and a shield around the dragster’s roll cage will be in use for the first time. NHRA altered the rules following the death of Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell in a race at St. Louis (July 25).
“We put a titanium cover on the outside of the roll cage around the driver’s head,” explained Herbert, “and we added the titanium under the driver’s seat to just below the shoulder straps.
“We’re looking forward to getting NHRA’s Western Swing off on a good note,” Herbert added. “We need to go up there and have a good outing. But it’s always a roll of the dice when it comes to the tune-up.”
McCulloch made changes in the clutch area because “we think this new approach will be better,” said Herbert. “We struggled in the first half of the season and this should help us. One of the good things was we didn’t break a lot of parts and we oiled the race track only once in 12 races.”
Herbert enters the Mile-Highs ninth in points with 536, but his goal is moving up several spots before the season-ending Auto Club Finals, Nov. 11-14.
“We think we’re better than our No. 9 showing,” Herbert concluded. “We need to prove it in the last 11 races.”
Denver’s all-important qualifying runs take place Friday at 5 and 8 p.m. and again Saturday at 3 and 6 p.m., setting the stage for Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. eliminations.
The downhill portion of the season begins Monday when the Snap-on crew heads for sea level in Seattle and the July 23-25 race, followed by the Western Swing’s last stop at Sonoma, Calif., July 30-Aug. 1.

Herbert changes addresses
Herbert admits he hasn’t had much time to think about the new rules, or the one beginning at Seattle that calls for the percentage of nitromethane fuel to drop from 90 to 85 percent. His focus has been overseeing the relocation of his performance parts business.
Moving has been a work in progress for several weeks and it looks like it will be a few more before Herbert can officially make the switch from his longtime business location in Cherryville, N.C., to the new place in Lincolnton.
“We’re getting close and everything at the new place is looking better every day,” he said of his 100,000-square foot building. “We’ve been doing a lot of the moving ourselves and that’s been a real chore.
“We are putting a new front on the building. It’ll be glass and brushed stainless steel. It’ll look really good when it’s finished.”
The building also will house his drag racing team, which, incidentally, will not be back in North Carolina until late August, thanks to the upcoming schedule. Following the three-race Western swing are events at Brainerd, Minn. (Aug. 15) and Memphis (Aug. 22) before the dragster returns.

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