Neff Saves Day For JFR At Chicago

A hot day cooled off most of the John Force Racing Mustangs throughout the day at Rt. 66 Raceway in Joliet. Current points leader Mike Neff made the best run of the trio of Ford Mustangs racing to the top of the Funny Car field with a time of 4.110 seconds at 298.01 mph as the second session came to a close. For Neff and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang the 4.11 was just what he thought a tricky track would hold.

Mike Neff, Castrol GTX
Mike Neff, Castrol GTX

Photo by: Ted Rossino

“The conditions did come around a lot for that second session and the track cooled of about 20 degrees. That is pretty much where we thought we would run. The asphalt is still pretty new out there. We spun the tires real hard when we hit the asphalt,” said Neff, the Funny Car points leader. “We were being a little more conservative here tonight knowing that tomorrow night we will have much better conditions than we had tonight. I just wanted to get down the track and make sure we were qualified for tomorrow. Tomorrow night we will have a better chance to run quicker with better conditions.”

In a unique move tomorrow’s quality sessions will mirror today’s and all the teams will get another shot at the track with cool night time conditions. That set-up does not give Neff any confidence that his time will hold as the No. 1 time for eliminations.

“The two runs go back to the same times as we ran today. We’ll look at the first run and try and fix that and then look at the second run. I don’t think the 4.11 will hold for No. 1. You’ll see quite a few cars run better than that I have a feeling,” added the three-time 2011 winner.

Neff has raced to five finals in the last six races with two wins and he has conditioned his mind and body to withstand the tough demands of driving and tuning. It has been a process and Neff credits his team particularly Bernie Fedderly, Jon Schaffer and Dan Hood with keeping him on top of his tuning duties.

“At the beginning (of the season) it was hard for me to say. People always asked if it was harder. I think it is helpful now. You just feel like you are really in the groove with the car and driving. You know what to expect. It gives me a lot more confidence,” said Neff.

“It keeps me thinking that is for sure. I have a good team and we have a really good system worked out. I am making a few calls here and there and then I get in a drive it. It – driving and tuning - is not taking its toll like it did at the beginning of the season. It is going well and I like it that way. It seems like you are concentrating a lot harder when you are going all the time. I would be just sitting around watching TV is I wasn’t doing both jobs.”

While Neff was racing to the top in the second session both his teammates, Robert Hight and John Force, improved over their first session runs but it was not the kind of improvement either drivers were looking for.

In the first session Force hit the throttle and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang launched briefly and then rolled to a stop silenced by a broken throttle linkage. In the second session Force smoked the tires at about 300 feet and posted a 6.129 second pass which was the 16th quickest of the eighteen Funny Cars on the property. That time will not carry over to Saturday’s session.

Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang also struggled in the first session but did not make dramatic improvement in the final session of the day. Hight pedaled his Mustang to a 5.440 second run beside two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon.

Both Hight and Force will go into Saturday without posted times but both will reap the benefits of the dual night time session format.

By: john force racing