LAS VEGAS â€“ When Doug Herbert thinks about Las Vegas, he smiles when he recalls the time in 2002 when he drove his Snap-on Tools Top Fuel dragster down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with style. The dragster`s engine blew up at the 1,000-foot mark, and Herbert coasted through the lights.
The run was good enough for the No. 1 qualifying spot. Herbert didn`t win that day but there is always another race in Las Vegas. In fact, there are two each year. Herbert and the rest of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series will be in Las Vegas this weekend for the first time this season.
“Earning the No. 1 qualifier at that race in 2002 was fun,” Herbert said. “But we`ve never won there and I would love to change that. The way the car is running, we have a real shot at making a run at the top qualifying spot and the win on Sunday.”
Herbert is quick to point out that Houston was a great learning experience for the Snap-on team. The track conditions were dramatically different each day and it was the first time this season the crew chiefs had a hot track to work with.
The Snap-on car made two clean passes on Friday during the cool weather, but came up short of their expectations Saturday during the heat.
The data, however, will help for the rest of the season.
“It is so important to get down the track when it`s hot,” Herbert said. “We need to get more aggressive and we have the guys to make that happen. We didn`t get down the track on Saturday in Houston, but I couldn`t think of two better guys to be tuning the car.
“We have a great team with (crew chief) Rob Flynn and (tuning consultant) Jim Brissette making all the calls. This team gets better every weekend and I`m looking forward to being in Las Vegas and seeing what we can do.”
This weekend`s race will be just the second national event for the new Snap-on dragster. The team tested the McKinney car after the Gatornationals (Gainesville, Fla. in March) before using it for the first time in pro competition last weekend.
The Strip, said Herbert, is a great place to have a great car.
“I think we`ve taken care of all the little bugs that come with a new car,” Herbert said. “Everything has been adjusted and I`m a lot more comfortable in this car.”
So comfortable, Herbert is willing to go a mile for the win on Sunday, especially in Las Vegas.
“That track is one of the best on the circuit,” he said.
“It`s great that we get to race at two of the best tracks on the schedule in the next three weeks. First we`re in Las Vegas and then we head off to Bristol Dragway, another fantastic track.
“But Vegas is special. When Sonnie and I first got married and we were living in Southern California, we always went over to have some fun in Vegas. I hope we have some more fun this weekend. We need to start going rounds and I know the entire team agrees with me.”
All the action can be seen on ESPN2 starting with the qualifying show at 10 p.m. (ET) on Saturday followed by the eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
by Special to the LTN