ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals
Two wins in one weekend is Herbert's goal
Las Vegas, prerace: The 2004 NHRA schedule shows two POWERade Series events remain - the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif.
That's not the way Doug Herbert and his Snap-on Racing Top Fuel look at it, and for good reason. Actually 100,000 of them.
Herbert will be one of eight Top Fuel drivers racing in the annual Budweiser Shootout, a special event making its debut at The Strip featuring eight drivers who earned qualifying points at the season's first 21 races. They will compete Saturday for the $100,000 top prize.
"We're saying there are three races left going into Vegas," said Herbert. "Winning the Shootout is important to us, so we're treating it as a race to go along with Sunday's race and the Finals."
The Shootout will be run in conjunction with the final qualifying rounds for Sunday's eliminations. Herbert was seventh in the final tally with 2765 points. Due to a format change this year, he won't know whom he will race until Thursday night following a special drawing. The second through sixth drivers - Tony Schumacher, David Grubnic, Brandon Bernstein, Scott Kalitta and Cory McClenathan - will be included in the draw.
Doug Kalitta, No. 1 in Shootout points, knows he races No. 8, but that driver will be determined by a drawing between the Nos. 8 through 15 finishers.
"We don't care which driver we race first," said Herbert. "We know we want to take home that $100 grand and to do that we'll have to beat three good drivers."
Although the Lincolnton, N.C.-based Herbert won the Bud Shootout top prize yet, he did win a $100,000 bonus from former series sponsor Winston in 1999. His qualifying position was drawn before the national event at Houston, giving Herbert the opportunity to collect the cash if he won the race, which he did.
"I remember we were very happy going home after that race," said Herbert. "We'd like to get that feeling all over again on Saturday."
The Shootout winner will have the opportunity to claim a $50,000 NHRA bonus should he come back and win the ACDelco Nationals. That could produce a $190,000 payday, with $40,000 going to Sunday's race winner.
Herbert also has a lot on the line in Sunday's Halloween race. He trails McClenathan by 31 points (1,046-1,015) in his quest to finish seventh place in the series standings. Eight rounds of competition remain, with 20 points awarded for each round win. Therefore, Herbert must win two more rounds than McClenathan before the final curtain falls.
"Our performance has definitely been improving," said Herbert, who won at Joliet, Ill., Oct. 3. "We believe we can be in contention each race win. That's the way we're approaching the last two stops in the series. It's like I've said a lot this year: We go to each race with the goal of winning. This isn't a tea party; this is serious business."
Because it is Halloween, Herbert's treat would be the race's championship trophy. The tricky part is claiming it.
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