Mike Neff used all his mechanical and driving skills this weekend at the 6th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals en route to his back to back victory in Norwalk. Neff tuned and drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the No. 2 qualifying spot and then the win over Tim Wilkerson. Neff outran Wilkerson 4.217 to 4.244. He became the first two-time winner at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park and this was his second win of 2012.
“The weather conditions this weekend were so difficult. Even today was much nicer than yesterday but it still got warm after first round. The track was up over 130 degrees. Any time you have track temperatures like that it is just tricky. It just comes down to being able to go up and down the track without smoking the tires,” said Neff. “Friday night was really critical. That was going to be by far the coolest conditions of the weekend. That was the one run you had to make a good run. That kind of set the pace and fortunately for me I made a good run. I was No. 2 and it was a good position. You qualify No. 2 and you are running the No. 15 guy. Your odds of winning go way up. That is the way I look at it.”
Neff’s four runs today were 4.299, 4.229, 2.281 and 4.217 for an average ET of 4.254 seconds. Having his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the four twenties all day was key for Neff.
“The final I would say that was a good solid run for me. I was on a really good run in the first round and I thought it would run 4.11 but it popped the blower. The second round it spun the tires from half-track to the finish line. It put a hole out in the semis and ran 4.28. Finally in the final I got it to run on all eight and it made a good clean run right when I needed it. Tim Wilkerson put up a heck of a run over there. It had to be very close at the finish line. It was just our day,” said Neff, an eight-time Funny Car winner.
For the back-to-back Norwalk champion and three-time finalist as a crew chief Neff has a good feeling about racing at Norwalk. He can’t put his finger on why he does well here but he is glad to have the good luck.
“This place is kind of tricky,” Neff reported. “We have done fairly well on the hotter race tracks. Sometimes it just seems like you go to a track and you just always do well there. There are also just some tracks where it seems like you can never do anything right. I don’t know how it all works but Norwalk has definitely been really good to me.”
With Neff’s win he stopped the Wilkerson point charge and secured a bit of breathing room for John Force in the tenth spot in the Full Throttle point standings.
“That was big. Our goal is to get all four cars in the Countdown. John is down there and Tim was on a roll today. You run the best you can and you hope it is good enough. Fortunately for us today it was.”
Neff moved from 5th to 3rd in the Full Throttle Funny Car point standings. This was the third time Neff has met Wilkerson in a final. He was 0-2 before today dropping finals at St. Louis (first career final) and Englishtown in his rookie season (2008). The win also held off a charging Wilkerson in the point standings.
“We found something that wasn’t quite right. It has been a lot of fun here this weekend. It has been tricky conditions. Today is a little nicer than yesterday,” said Neff. “I am thrilled to be able to get into the semis. Unfortunately Courtney put up a great run (in the second round) but couldn’t get around Cruz. I’m just glad to still be out here for all our sponsors like Castrol, Ford, Mac Tools, Auto Club, Traxxas and BrandSource and we are just going to try to keep going.”
With his win Neff also secured a 55” flat screen TV for Darrell Orelski of Erie, Penn., as part of the BrandSource Win with Force promotion. All weekend fans have been signing up at the John Force Racing sponsor trailer for a chance to win a washer and dryer set if JFR is No. 1 qualifier or a 55” flat screen TV is JFR wins. So far this season JFR has given away five sets of washers and dryers and seven flat screen TVs in twelve races.
For the second Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Mike Neff defeated Cruz Pedegron in the semifinals. Neff went on to win last year over Ron Capps. Neff and Pedregon were 6-4 going into semis with Neff posting six consecutive wins, a streak he has now extended to seven in a row. After the race Neff was pleased with his Castrol GTX’s turn around.
“We found a few things testing and this weekend that weren’t quite right. We kind of have it back in line. I am feeling good to be going up and down the race track,” said Neff.
Neff outran Bob Bode in the first round and defeated Jeff Arend in the second round.