Brainerd: Mike Neff preview

NEFF FOCUSED WITH THREE RACES LEFT BEFORE COUNTDOWN BRAINERD, MN (August 3, 2008) --- Rookie Mike Neff and the Old Spice Ford Mustang team are continuing to keep their season goals in focus. It may sound like a broken record to some but Neff and...

NEFF FOCUSED WITH THREE RACES LEFT BEFORE COUNTDOWN

BRAINERD, MN (August 3, 2008) --- Rookie Mike Neff and the Old Spice Ford Mustang team are continuing to keep their season goals in focus. It may sound like a broken record to some but Neff and his team know that what some people might call "broken record" they call attention to detail and staying focused.

Neff sits in ninth position 54 points in front of Jack Beckman in No. 10 and 96 points in front of fellow rookie Bob Tasca III in No. 11. Qualifying in the top half of the field and going rounds will keep Neff in the Top Ten and once the Countdown to One he knows that it will be anyone's shot for the championship. Recently Neff mapped out how he feels his team is working.

"I feel like we have a legitimate chance every time we pull into the track. I expect us to win and I know we are good enough to win so that is what makes it frustrating that we didn't win. I don't want to be down there bouncing around fighting for that tenth spot. I'd like to get away from that and get ourselves solidly into the Countdown. That is the goal right now. I believe we'll get better and I'll get better. Hopefully we make the countdown and then be hitting our stride about that point and have a legitimate chance at it," said Neff.

With the Western Swing behind him Neff would have liked to have put some more distance between his team and the fringes of the bubble spot. A win over teammate and icon John Force in the first round of the Mopar Mile High Nationals and a critical first round win over Bob Tasca III at Seattle were the only round wins he picked up on the Western Swing but they were enough to keep his pursuers at bay.

Neff has enjoyed a solid rookie season to date with three final round appearances (St. Louis, Bristol, and Englishtown) as well as a No. 1 qualifier to his credit. He is recognized as one of the favorites to win the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award presented at the championship banquet to the top professional rookie. If Neff does pick up the Rookie of the Year hardware and the $20,000 bonus he will become the third JFR driver in four years to win the award following teammates Robert Hight (2005) and Ashley Force (2007).

The former world champion crew chief for Gary Scelzi is quickly getting accustomed to feeling the acceleration of his 8,000 hp Ford Mustang. Neff enjoys the experience of driving but by his own admission driving has not replaced the satisfaction of tuning a Funny Car.

"People ask me which do I like better driving or being a crew chief and I can't answer that question. I didn't pick being a driver over being a crew chief. It is like if someone asked you to pick which one of your kids is your favorite. You can't do that," said Neff.

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Bob Tasca III , Mike Neff