Neff - Ford interview 2011-03-23

This Week in Ford Racing

After tuning the famed Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Musting driven by John Force to its 15th World Championship in 2010, Mike Neff once again climbed back into the driver’s seat for the 2011 season. Unlike previous seasons, Mike is not only driving his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, but also serving as the crew chief for the car – a task that could seem heavy for any driver or tuner. With a semifinal finish at the season-opening race at Pomona and a win and the points lead at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals just a few weeks ago, Neff is off to a fast start. Neff was one of the drivers featured on this week’s NHRA teleconference. Read More

MIKE NEFF – Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car - YOU MUST HAVE BEEN EXCITED WHEN YOU GOT THE WORD FROM JOHN THAT YOU’D BE RACING AGAIN THIS YEAR, BUT WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN HE SAID YOU’D ALSO BE TUNING YOUR OWN CAR? “I was probably more shocked than anything, when I first found out Ashley [Force-Hood] was pregnant and what was going to be taking place, that I was going to be going back in. We’d talked about it before. We knew it’d be a possibility at some point, that Ashley would want to have a child. I kind of knew that if that happened, there was a good chance I’d be back in there. After tuning last year, I kind of knew that would be part of…the best way to do it, to have Bernie [Fedderly] help me, and everybody pitching in. That was probably the easiest way out for us.”

SINCE GAINESVILLE, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR JOHN TO ASK FOR HIS CAR BACK? OR HAS HE? “He hasn’t yet. I’ve been waiting for it. All these cars, they’re all pretty much the same, and I know he’s maybe not off to the start that he wanted, but that’s just kind of the growing pains when you go to a different car or a different team. He’ll be right back in the fight in no time. There’s no question about it. That’s a great team over there with Ashley’s car, with Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas over there. There’s no doubt Force will be swinging back here real fast. He definitely wants to win.”

YOU’VE CREWED; YOU’VE DRIVEN; NOW YOU’RE PULLING DOUBLE-DUTY ON THE CAR. HOW GRATIFYING IS IT TO WIN…YOUR FIRST SEASON IN THE CAR WINNING THE FINAL RACE, AND NOW WINNING THE SECOND RACE IN? HOW GRATIFYING IS THAT, DOING DOUBLE-DUTY? “It was really exciting to win Gainesville, like you said, doing both...just the pressure of it all, to just have a great weekend like that. That was probably without a doubt the best day of racing I’ve ever had in my life. Even the whole week – it was a lot of stress and a lot of nerves. To see it all follow through and end up winning the way we did, it was very gratifying and a great experience. A great feeling.”

YOU TALKED IN GAINESVILLE ABOUT HOW IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU PERSONALLY TO BE A GOOD DRIVER. YOU WANT TO BE RECOGNIZED AS A GOOD DRIVER. WITHOUT TAXING YOURSELF MORE THAN YOU’RE DOING ALREADY. HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO CLEAR YOUR MIND AND FOCUS ONLY ON DRIVING? “I think it’s almost helpful, to where before, when all I was doing was driving, you’d have all that time to sit around and think about it. I believe the worst thing a driver can do is start thinking. When you get up there and you think ‘I need to do this; I need to do that.’ The more you think; it seems like, the more trouble you get yourself into. The one positive thing is with all the stuff I have going, I don’t have to sit around and worry about the driving or my reaction times or anything like that. When it comes time to get in there, you just go and do it. It doesn’t seem like I’m playing all those mind games with myself like I used to.”

DID YOU HAVE TO ADJUST THE CAR PHYSICALLY FOR YOU? “Honestly no. It was very minimal. Different feet inserts for me, as opposed to John, and moved the break handle around a little bit, and the steering wheel and that was it. Just very minimal. I was able to just hop in and go. That made it nice.”

YOU HAD SAID YOU WERE GOING TO CALL [GARY SCELZI, THE DRIVER NEFF TUNED TO THE FULL THROTTLE SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2005]. DID YOU DO THAT? “Yeah, I did call him that night. He had texted me prior to that. I did call him that night when I got to dinner. He was excited for me. We had a good laugh. It was good talking to Gary again.”

-source: ford racing

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Series NHRA
Tags ford, neff, nhra