NEFF GRABS ANOTHER TOP TEN FINISH, LOOKING FOR TEAM SUCCESS POMONA, CA (November 9, 2009) --- For second year driver Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One team 2009 has been a season of success but not the ultimate success. They have raced to finals...
NEFF GRABS ANOTHER TOP TEN FINISH, LOOKING FOR TEAM SUCCESS
POMONA, CA (November 9, 2009) --- For second year driver Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One team 2009 has been a season of success but not the ultimate success. They have raced to finals and been number one qualifier on multiple occasions. They qualified for the Countdown to 1 for the second consecutive year but as the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing season comes to a close they are still looking for their first win.
To further complicate matters Neff has been thrust back into the dual role of driver and crew chief for the final races of the Countdown to 1 as original crew chief John Medlen joined John Force's team prior to Richmond to add an extra set of veteran hands to the 14-time champion's Ford Mustang. Making the tuning calls and driving is a responsibility that Neff relishes and he is enjoying the challenges as he heads into the final race of the season.
"It is busy. It is stressful. You start making some runs and seeing results, which helps you with the changes. You sort of feel your way though. This Mustang has been running good for a while and John Medlen had it set up so this was the easiest deal to step into. It just added more responsibility. I just think about the car all the time. When Medlen was making the tuning calls I just bopped around here with no worries until I got strapped in before the run. It just seems like the wheels are turning non-stop," said Neff.
While Neff has been eliminated from Championship contention he knows that has played a role in contributing to the on-track success of points leader Robert Hight and second place points holder Ashley Force Hood. His biggest moment of late was the first round victory over Tony Pedregon in Richmond. Hight and Force Hood made early exits and Neff's win stopped any momentum Pedregon could have gained.
After that win Neff knew he had helped the team's championship hopes.
"You can really feel the pressure. We know what is at stake and that was a huge round for us to help our teammates. I got picked off by Tony in Memphis on a close race and this time we really wanted to get that win. It is really awesome for this Ford Mustang and John Force Racing to get by Tony Pedregon," said Neff.
Neff raced to the semi-finals in Richmond that day and on Monday following that race he made the first full passes in the new John Force Racing designed chassis. He continued to run the new chassis in Las Vegas and has been working out challenges to get a jump start on 2010 for all the John Force Racing Mustangs. A first round loss in Las Vegas was partially attributed to figuring out the new chassis.
"(Las Vegas) was a disappointing weekend for us. It is kind of the new car blues. The new chassis we built is great. The problem that we discovered is the parts we put on it that control all the electronics. (The new chassis) changed everything. We couldn't get a handle on it. It kind of threw us a curve ball. We are going to fix all that and go to Pomona. We will be close and take a shot at it," said Neff.
"The biggest thing here for Team Force is we are thrilled to see Robert win. We want to put a nail in that coffin for the championship. That is what it is all about and that is what our goal is. That makes me feel good even after out disappointment."
Last year at the Auto Club NHRA Finals Neff had the car to beat racing to the No. 1 qualifying position and reaching the semi-finals before a timing box malfunction ended his day versus Cruz Pedregon. It was by far his strongest performance as a driver at Auto Club Raceway and Neff is looking forward to another strong performance this weekend.
"We tested after Las Vegas and continued to work some things out on this Ford Drive One Mustang. We won't get any points at Pomona but more important than points is getting this Mustang to the winner's circle and finishing strong. We learned a lot and we will be a in a good position. I am excited to get back out onto the race track see what we can for our Ford Drive One Team as well as for Robert and Ashley in their race for the championship," said Neff.