Reading: Mike Neff preview

MIKE NEFF PLANS TO CONTINUE AGGRESSIVE PERFORMANCE PUSH IN READING READING, PA (August 18, 2009) --- Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang team dodged a bullet in Brainerd, Minnesota. They went into Sunday's elimination rounds as the No. 1 ...

MIKE NEFF PLANS TO CONTINUE AGGRESSIVE PERFORMANCE PUSH IN READING

READING, PA (August 18, 2009) --- Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang team dodged a bullet in Brainerd, Minnesota. They went into Sunday's elimination rounds as the No. 1 qualifier but an overly aggressive tune-up cost them a round win. Fortunately the two drivers, Matt Hagan and Cruz Pedregon, directly behind them in the Full Throttle point standings had to race each other in the first round and the winner, Pedregon, lost in the next round. Ninth place Neff has a tenuous ten point lead over Pedregon and a 40 point lead over rookie Matt Hagan who is in 11th place.

After the round one mishap Neff and crew chief John Medlen both realized their aggressive tune up was too much for Brainerd International Raceway. They will continue to be aggressive for the next two races and into the Countdown but they will also keep in an eye on going rounds.

"It is a double edge sword (being overly aggressive or not aggressive enough) right there (in first round of Brainerd) we just didn't need to try to run as hard as we did. We felt that we could run a little better and the car did everything we wanted it to do it was just the track would not take it. The other guy runs a 4.19 and we are up there trying to run a 4.09 or a 4.10 we made a mistake. That is just the way it goes. We try to run as hard as we can every run. That time we just pressed a little too hard and shot ourselves in the foot. The positive is the Mustang is running good. The crew is doing a great job. Everything is working really good we just made a little error in our call that time," said Neff.

Heading into the 25th annual TOYO Tires NHRA Nationals Neff is excited about the prospects and the challenge in front of the Ford Drive One team.

"The positive is we know our car runs as good as anybody. We'll go to Reading and try it again next weekend," said Neff.

"I do think about (2005) when I start getting stressed and feeling the pressure. I know that I have been through actually more pressure, about as much pressure as anybody can image. That championship season experience of going to the last day of the season racing two other teams, Ron Capps and John Force, for the world championship where every round and every run counting like it was. I have been through this before and it is tough. I don't let that bother me too much. I just try and stay relaxed. I want to go up there and be ready," said the 2005 world champion crew chief.

Last year in Reading Neff was also feeling the pressure as he was battling for a spot in the Countdown. A strong qualifying performance, No. 3, and a semi-final finish clinched his spot in the elite field. He and crew chief John Medlen battled a tricky track smoking the tires in their first and second round victories before dropping a close race to drag racing instructor and two-time world champion Frank Hawley.

This year Neff is entering the race off a No. 1 qualifying performance in Brainerd. This was Neff's second No. 1 qualifying effort in 2009 equally his total from the 2008 season.

"There is no doubt our performance has gotten better this season. John Medlen and the crew have been doing a great job. I am getting better as a driver. I feel great in this Ford Drive One Mustang and I know Reading will be an important race for us. I want to go rounds and I want to be able to help my teammates John Force and Robert Hight," said Neff.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Frank Hawley , John Medlen , Mike Neff