Bristol: Mike Neff preview

FOCUSED NEFF TAKES SUCCESS IN STRIDE BRISTOL (May 9, 2008) --- Mike Neff and the Old Spice Ford Mustang team are once again looking for one round win as they head into Bristol Dragway for the 8th annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals. ...

FOCUSED NEFF TAKES SUCCESS IN STRIDE

BRISTOL (May 9, 2008) --- Mike Neff and the Old Spice Ford Mustang team are once again looking for one round win as they head into Bristol Dragway for the 8th annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals.

This weekend instead of their first round win Neff and crew chief John Medlen are looking for their first final round win. Two weeks ago Neff ended an 0-8 first round losing streak with a win over Melanie Troxel to start the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. Neff then out ran Mike Ashley and teammate Robert Hight to land in his first final round as a driver.

Neff was edged out at the finish line by red hot Tim Wilkerson for the win. Rather than get bogged down in patting himself on the back the even keeled Neff is already focused on Bristol.

"I haven't thought about the race really. I haven't even seen the race on TV or anything. I'm on to the next one," said the Hemet, Calif. native. "It was a good weekend for us definitely. It helped with my confidence a little bit and I am sure everybody else's."

Prior to joining John Force Racing Neff was tuning Gary Scelzi's championship caliber and winning Oakley Funny Car. His attention to detail outside the race car is quickly translating to success behind the wheel. Neff's improvement comes as no surprise to team leader John Force and teammate Robert Hight.

"Neff is going to be good. He and I work well together. He is big asset to the team and I am glad he is here. He'd never won a round and then goes to the final. He is going to have a bunch more finals," said Hight, the fastest Funny Car driver to reach 100 round wins. "He does a good job working with (crew chief) John Medlen. He really fit in. He is in a unique position. He fits the deal perfectly with Medlen."

Neff -- the only John Force Racing driver to qualify for every race in 2008 - made a serious move up the point standings moving from the No. 14 position to No. 11 just eleven points outside the Top Ten.

His points standing and the success of being the only rookie driver to advance to a final round continues to make Neff a front-runner for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award presented to the NHRA Rookie of the Year.

In addition to his driving duties Neff has been working side by side with John Medlen as they develop and test the BOSS 500 engine. As the season has progressed Neff's technical optimism has increased with each quarter-mile pass and he was especially pleased with the BOSS 500 engines performance on his run to his first final round.

"(The BOSS 500 engine) was great. We ran it all weekend and that thing was flawless. We are thrilled about that. It hasn't caused us any problems. The Ford BOSS 500 makes more power and we've had to make some adjustments to get the clutch right so it adapts to all that power."

Prior to the 8th annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley National Mike Neff will be one of many NHRA stars participating in the JEGS 5th annual Celebrity Golf Benefit on May 15th at the Country Club of Bristol.

"I'm not a bad golfer. I'm pretty good, pretty decent," said Neff.

The golf tournament, which serves as one of the major fundraisers for the Bristol chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, has raised more than $100,000 in the past four years. Over the last decade, the Bristol chapter of the non-profit organization has raised in excess of $4 million for children's agencies in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Mike Ashley , Robert Hight , John Medlen , Mike Neff