MORRISON, CO (July 1, 2009) --- Mike Neff has had two goals during the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The first is to get a win in the ultra-competitive Funny Car class and the second is to qualify for the Countdown to One race for the Funny Car championship.
His progress on goal number two took a big step forward as Neff moved into the Top Ten during the Norwalk race grabbing the No. 9 position, a mere eighteen points ahead of rookie Matt Hagan and reigning Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon. There are still six races left before the cut-off but beginning the daunting Western Swing on the inside of the Top Ten is a good position to be in.
Still the world champion crew chief - 2005 season with Gary Scelzi - turned driver wants his first win so badly that it is the topic that pops up whenever someone talks about how his season is progressing. Even though his Ford Drive One Mustang has been one of the most consistent qualifiers on the tour the past four races Neff knows you are judged by wins.
“It is always disappointing when your car is running so good and you have one little mishap and you are trailered. The positives are we qualified No. 1 and we had a really good race car this weekend. Our Mustang was a good as anybody else out here. We moved into the Top Ten that’s a positive. We are excited to be heading to Denver for the next one,” said Neff.
“At this point when the car is running good this is when you want to be at the track every weekend. You enjoy racing and it makes it fun. Especially right now we feel like short-changed ourselves (in Norwalk) by letting one get away from us. We want to get right back out there and redeem ourselves as soon as possible. (Crew chief) John Medlen has this Mustang running great.”
Running great might be an understatement. Neff’s Mustang has made a steady progression up the qualifying ladder in Chicago they were No. 3 in qualifying and averaged an astounding 4.11 seconds over their seven runs at Rt. 66 Raceway. In Englishtown they grabbed the No. 2 qualifying spot and had one of the best race cars on the property but a close race with veteran Tim Wilkerson in the second round ended his day. His thoughts after that race sum up where he thinks the team is headed and how he feels he needs to continue to focus.
“The performance of the car is getting better every race. It is performing at the top of the pack. That is a good thing. We lost a close race to Tim Wilkerson. We are not getting any breaks. We all have to do our jobs and be on. (Crew chief John) Medlen and the boys are doing their job and I have to make sure I am doing my job. Part of the deal is getting the performance back to where it needed to be. It’s there now. I feel confident we will start moving up the points now,” said Neff.
“The pressure doesn’t bother me. Even the inexperience doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel inexperienced any more. It is about performing at a high enough level to get the job done. The racing is so tight now you have to be on all the time. You can’t afford to slip up even a little bit,” said the 2008 Rookie of the Year.
“It is a team effort here. We are all working together. That is also what makes Funny Car racing so exciting. It is the top category in drag racing in my opinion. It is so close competitively. These races are being decided by a few thousandths of a second on a regular basis. That is just part of how intense it is.”
Neff qualified No. 12 when he raced for the first time at storied Bandimere Speedway last season. He raced into the second round after beating John Force where he dropped a close race to then red-hot Tim Wilkerson.
Did you know…
- 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).
- Neff and his three teammates (John Force, Ashley Force Hood and Robert Hight) will be cruising to Cabo San Lucas for New Year’s Eve as part of the John Force Racing Fan Cruise III sponsored by AAA. Fans can get more information by calling 1-888-874-7222.
Get team info here: www.johnforceracing.com
Follow John Force Racing at www.twitter.com/jfr_racing