ST LOUIS (April 27, 2009) --- Ford Drive One driver Mike Neff started his Funny Car driving career with a lengthy dry spell. It took Neff nine races to move beyond the first round but when he broke through the World Champion Funny Car tuner really broke through. On the heels of watching team owner John Force win the 1000th round of racing in his illustrious career Neff blasted down the race track at Gateway International Raceway to grab his first round win over Melanie Troxel last year. Neff then proceeded to defeat Mike Ashley and teammate Robert Hight before falling to red-hot Tim Wilkerson in his first final appearance.
“I was nervous before first round just because this first round thing - 0-8 in previous races - was really starting to wear on me. Once we won first round I actually got calmer as the day went on. I was probably as calm in the final as I have been all day,” said the 2008 Rookie of the Year.
Fast forward to the 2009 Full Throttle season. Neff has already raced to one final this season in Phoenix and has been a tough competitor even though the results have not shown up in the win column. A number of mechanical issues have bitten Neff and crew chief John Medlen.
“We are just battling our clutch a little bit mainly our clutch controller. It is a new part we have been running this year. We are still trying to fine tune it and it caused us some problems (in Atlanta),” said Neff
Rolling into St. Louis has Neff and his team ready to return to their 2008 form.
“Our car has been running good. It can run with anybody. We had a bad day on Friday (In Atlanta) and that put us on the defense Saturday but we still made two good runs. Then we made a good run in the first round then got dealt a curve ball in the second round versus Ashley (Force Hood). If we can eliminate these unforeseen problems we’ll be OK. We feel like we are making the right calls it is just that things aren’t working the way we think they are supposed to. If we can get that straightened out I think we’ll be able to get something going.”
Mike Neff is a big believer in mojo and teams getting momentum. He thinks that getting back on the track in St. Louis could be the start of a positive move for his Ford Drive One Mustang team.
Did you know…
- Mike Neff will be the on-location guest Tuesday night on Auto Sport Radio with host Don Kay in Indianapolis (www.autosportradio.com)
- When Neff does capture his first win for John Force Racing he will become the seventh different drivers to have won Funny Car races on the NHRA tour – John Force, Tony Pedregon, Gary Densham, Robert Hight Ashley Force and the late Eric Medlen.
- A strong 2008 rookie season for Neff allowed him to continue another John Force Racing tradition becoming the third John Force Racing, Inc., driver in four years to win the Auto Club’s Road to the Future Award as the NHRA Rookie of the Year following Robert Hight (2005) and Ashley Force (2007).
Get team info here: www.johnforceracing.com
Follow John Force Racing at www.twitter.com/jfr_racing