John Force Racing awards ceremony report

MIKE NEFF, CASTROL GTX TEAM GRAB TOP HONORS AT BANQUET LOS ANGELES (November 18, 2008) --- This past Monday night at the 2008 NHRA POWERade Championship banquet John Force Racing picked up the top two seasonal prizes in addition to posting...

MIKE NEFF, CASTROL GTX TEAM GRAB TOP HONORS AT BANQUET

LOS ANGELES (November 18, 2008) --- This past Monday night at the 2008 NHRA POWERade Championship banquet John Force Racing picked up the top two seasonal prizes in addition to posting four Top Ten finishes in the Funny Car category. Hosted at the elegant Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City all the stars of the NHRA turned out for the celebration of another exciting season of NHRA Drag Racing.

Funny Car driver Mike Neff won the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes NHRA's rookie of the year. A panel of the nation's most prominent motorsports journalists selected Neff, who traded in his crew-chief wrench for a pair of driving gloves in 2008. He was the only rookie candidate who qualified for the Countdown to 1. His season highlights included three runner-up finishes and two No. 1 qualifying awards behind the wheel of his Old Spice Ford Mustang.

It is the third time in the last four years that a driver from John Force Racing has won the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award; Neff joins 2007 winner Ashley Force and 2005 winner Robert Hight. Other nominees for the prestigious award were Ford Shelby Mustang driver Bob Tasca III in Funny Car, Steve Torrence in Top Fuel, Rickie Jones in Pro Stock, and Junior Pippin in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

During Neff's acceptance speech the former crew-chief thanked team owner John Force as well crew-chief John Medlen.

"I want to thank John Force for giving me the chance to drive. This was a dream come true for me and I honestly never thought I would get this chance. Thank you for taking a chance on former crew chief. I especially want to thank John Medlen, my crew chief. He is one of the main reasons I came to this special team. He is such a good man, a man of character and quiet dignity, He made this season so easy for me and for that I am forever grateful," said Neff.

Ashley Force's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang crew led by Dean "Guido" Antonelli and Ron Douglas picked up the Full Throttle NHRA Pit Crew Challenge award. Full Throttle NHRA Pit Crew Championship season awards, recognizes the most consistently quick teams during qualifying throughout the year. A check for $25,000 was the top prize in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories.

In a recent online diary entry for national newspaper USA Today Ashley Force noted that winning the Full Throttle NHRA Pit Crew Challenge was a highlight of her season.

"My biggest highlight this year if you take my first win in Atlanta off the table was winning the Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge for the 2008 season. Probably even more than the race win was this because I know what a great team I have but every driver knows that about their team. Now the whole NHRA community can see how great my guys are," penned Force. "We have a really great team. We had the most consistent car in qualifying for the whole year. Consistency is something that plays such a huge part in our sport so I was so proud of my guys to win that award. I am just one small piece in a big puzzle. Winning that award gave them the recognition and the applause they deserve. We hope to take that consistency and keep on improving next year."

-credit: jfr

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