Brainerd: Mike Neff preview

WINNING, HOLDING POSITION TOP PRIORITIES FOR MIKE NEFF BRAINERD, MN (August 11, 2009) --- For the past two weeks Ford Drive One crew chief John Medlen and driver Mike Neff have been going over their Ford Mustang at the John Force Racing ...

WINNING, HOLDING POSITION TOP PRIORITIES FOR MIKE NEFF

BRAINERD, MN (August 11, 2009) --- For the past two weeks Ford Drive One crew chief John Medlen and driver Mike Neff have been going over their Ford Mustang at the John Force Racing Brownsburg, Indiana shop getting it ready for the last three races before the NHRA Countdown to One starts. Team owner John Force has dubbed these next three races as the "Countdown to the Countdown" as five drivers race to grab the final three slots in the Top Ten.

"It has been a busy two weeks. Robert Hight tested in O'Reilly Raceway Park on Monday before Brainerd and we have been working in the shop making sure we had everything we needed to have some success at Brainerd and beyond," said Neff.

Last year at Brained International Raceway John Force Racing had its strongest qualifying effort grabbing the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 qualifying positions for race day. Neff secured the No. 5 position but was upended by Tim Wilkerson in the first round.

Neff had a tough draw in the first round facing points leader Tim Wilkerson. Crew Chief John Medlen was utilizing the same tune-up that propelled Neff to the quickest run of the last qualifying session on Saturday but that was not enough to beat a much improved performance from Wilkerson.

After the run Neff spoke about his performance and it has an eerie ring with regards to how their 2009 season has played out as well.

"I didn't really catch a good break having to race Tim Wilkerson. He can step up and run good at any time and that is exactly what he did. He ran low ET (of the first round) against us. We actually were trying to run better than we did. The clutch didn't apply itself quite the same way as it did yesterday. We had it set up the same and we thought it would run a 19 or 18. It just fell off," said Neff on that Sunday afternoon in 2008.

This season Neff has been up and down bouncing in and out of the Top Ten. He moved into the 9th position in the point standings with a quarterfinals finish in Seattle and held onto that spot, even creating a little separation from the 10th spot with another quarterfinal finish in Sonoma. Neff knows that his hold is tenuous and he needs to go rounds to stay in contention.

"Out mindset is not to just hold onto the No. 9 position in points. John Force had a meeting in Indy with the crew chiefs and drivers and laid out his plan and his expectations. We are all going to go out and try to win. Our strategy is to qualify as best we can and then go win as many rounds as possible. I want to get that first win. I know the clock is ticking and my team knows that as well. Every person on the Ford Drive One team wants to get a win and that is where our focus is going to be going into Brainerd," said the 2005 world champion crew chief turned driver.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Robert Hight , John Medlen , Mike Neff