CHERRYVILLE, N.C. -- Doug Herbert officially began his quest for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel championship Thursday when he named Ron Douglas crew chief of his Snap-on Racing Top Fuel dragster.
Douglas, 32, has been a crew member of Herbert's Cherryville-based team since 1998.
"We need some new, young crew chiefs in this sport and I believe Ron has the talent to be one of the best," said Herbert, adding that he released crew chief Johnny West following Sunday's Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif. "Ron has worked with Dick LaHaie, Larry Frazier and West when they were my crew chiefs. He is knowledgeable and very capable of doing the job.
"I do plan to add a tuning consultant to the team," continued Herbert. "I know he will probably have gray hair - because most of the tuners seem to be older and have gray hair - but I don't know who that will be."
Herbert equaled his career-best seventh place finish in NHRA competition this season. He wound up 10 points behind sixth-place Darrell Russell, 1343-1333. He won once and was runner-up twice. He was seventh in 2001 and 1999.
"We had high expectations at the beginning of the year, but our performance never really picked up until the last four races of the season when Wes Cerny, our tuning consultant, tuned the car," Herbert added. "I'd never qualified No. 1 in my career until the last four races, and then I qualified first twice and was second once.
"I wanted to sign Cerny, but, unfortunately, he had already agreed to go to Don Schumacher's team."
Douglas and the 2003 crew will debut in mid-January during annual pre-season testing. The Winternationals is the opening event, Feb. 6-9, at Pomona, Calif.
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