Indy ORP: Mike Neff preview

FIRED UP MIKE NEFF READY FOR MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 31, 2009) --- Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One team were on the cusp of winning their first race for the fifth time when he pulled his Mustang up to the starting line...

FIRED UP MIKE NEFF READY FOR MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 31, 2009) --- Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One team were on the cusp of winning their first race for the fifth time when he pulled his Mustang up to the starting line versus Bob Tasca III at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading. An errant drop of sweat to the eye erased a complete day of racing success as Neff was blinded for a split second and was completely thrown off versus Tasca.

Add that incident up to a growing list of bizarre events that have kept the 2008 Rookie of the Year from picking up his first Wally as a driver. Last year in his second final at Bristol where he was number one qualifier and blew through the field on Sunday, in the final round the body of his then Old Spice sponsored Mustang hung up on the chassis and his motor grenaded at half track as he was pulling away from Melanie Troxel.

In Phoenix earlier this year Neff again had the best car on the property but a broken throttle linkage ended his day after his final round burn-out versus Ron Capps. Neff idled down the track in disgust.

While the Reading loss want not as spectacular as Bristol it was equally as frustrating as Phoenix for the man who tuned Gary Scelzi to the 2005 Funny Car World Championship.

"John Medlen and this Ford Drive One team game me a great race car and I feel like I blew it. No excuses. You have to fight through things like sweat and distractions on the starting line. I just feel terrible. I don't want to take anything away from Bob Tasca III but I wish I could have given him more of a race especially for all the fans that waited out the weather and the track issues," said a disappointed Neff after the Reading race.

Heading into the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Neff is fired up and ready to attack the track with his Ford Drive One Mustang. The team testing at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis last week and they feel they are stocked up and ready for action.

"We feel pretty good going into Indy. We have a car that's running really strong, for testing here we really didn't change anything, we just tried a few different things to work on our depth, like spare blowers and stuff like that. We made a good run in the good conditions and made some good runs when it was hot here today. Ultimately we felt that we learned what we needed to and feel that we have a great shot going into the Indy weekend," said Neff.

"Track conditions were good when the track stayed cool, and got a bit tricky when it was hot. I think it will be better during the race when NHRA gets here and does their work on the track. Depending on the weather, the racetrack is in pretty good condition, so we should have a good and quick race weekend," concluded Neff.

Neff just needs to qualify to lock up a spot in the Countdown to 1. For the second year in a row Neff will be in position to become just the second racer to win pro championships as both crew chief and driver. The only person to have accomplished that feat is Dick LaHaie, who won a Top Fuel title as a driver in 1987 and as crew chief to Scott Kalitta in 1994 and 1995.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Scott Kalitta , Dick LaHaie , Bob Tasca III , John Medlen , Mike Neff