Doug Herbert Performance/B.R.A.K.E.S. dragster
Spirits high as Herbert prepares for eliminations
Seattle, Saturday: After a whirlwind week of changes, Doug Herbert qualified the Snap-on Tools Top Fuel dragster for the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways with a new tuner in place and a determined crew in support.
Herbert is seeking to turn his season around in Seattle after former crew chief Wayne Dupuy abruptly left the Snap-on team following the race in Denver last weekend. Herbert brought in his longtime friend and former tuner Jim Brissette, who agreed to rejoin the team for the remainder of the NHRA's Western Swing. Brissette, who was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall-of Fame this past March, has helped Herbert reach many major drag racing milestones during their long relationship.
Also joining the Snap-on Tools team in Seattle was John 'Bodie' Smith, who will be working in an assistant crew chief capacity along side Brissette. Smith, who is also a seasoned Top Fuel driver and crew chief, is married to Top Fuel racer Rhonda Hartman-Smith. The 39-year-old South Carolina resident and father of two has enjoyed his own share of glory on the NHRA tour. After earning his Top Fuel license in 1996, Smith served as crew chief on Randy Park's Top Fuel dragster in 1998 and 1999 and the following year he was crew chief on his wife's dragster. He and his spouse were the first husband and wife to qualify in the same professional category at an NHRA national event and are the quickest couple in drag racing history. The pair, who have been married 10 years, were also the first husband and wife to finish the season in the Top 10 in points (2002, 2003 and 2004). Smith and his brother, Mike, also have the distinction of being the first brothers to qualify in Top Fuel at the same NHRA national event at the 1998 Gatornationals. When he is not behind the wheel, Smith helps his father-in-law, Virgil Hartman, tune his wife's dragster.
The weather was hot in Seattle with track temperatures soaring over 130-degrees as qualifying began Friday afternoon. After a pair of tire-smoking runs during the first two qualifying sessions, Herbert and the team began to get things sorted out on Saturday. 'Dougzilla' blasted to a 4.703 at 308.64 mph during the third session, recording the quickest 60-foot time of the round and grabbing the No.11 position. The 38-year-old North Carolinian made another solid run from A to B on his final qualifying attempt with a 4.858 at 286.25 mph. Herbert will go into Sunday's first round of eliminations from the No. 11 qualifying spot where he will face Hillary Will.
"Today we were able to go down the track a couple of times and that gave us some data to work with tomorrow, and it should be a better day for us," said Herbert following qualifying. "We're looking forward to racing Hillary Will in the first round on Sunday. She actually bumped us out of the Top 10, so now we have a chance to race her head to head which is what we need to get back into the Top 10."
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