Doug Herbert, the National Hot Rod Association drag racer whose Top Fuel team is based in Lincolnton, N.C., is at it again. Herbert won the final NHRA national event before the championship field was cut down to eight drivers last month in Reading, Pa. Herbert had to win that race to make the cut in the NHRA’s new “Countdown” format, and even though he had to wait until Wednesday because of rain, that’s exactly what he did.
Last weekend in Memphis, Herbert didn’t win the race but he did get to the final against Melanie Troxel. Troxel ran 4.72 seconds (at 313.22 mph) to beat Herbert’s 4.90 time (at 290.51) in the final round.
Still, making the final allowed Herbert to move up two spots to fifth in the standings. After two more races, at Dallas this weekend and then at Richmond, the championship competition will be trimmed from eight to four.
Herbert is 43 points behind fourth-place Brandon Bernstein and 57 behind third-place Larry Dixon halfway through the “Countdown to Four” races. Tony Schumacher is first and Rod Fuller is second right now.
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“We definitely didn’t want to lose, but we did gain points on everyone in the Countdown,” Herbert said after falling to Troxel on Sunday in Memphis.
“We’ve been the ones doing the chasing all year, and so far we have had pretty good luck. The only time it’s important to lead the points is after the final round at Pomona.”
After Dallas this week and Richmond on Oct. 5-7, the next cutdown will move four drivers into position to compete for the title in the final races at Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif.