ROOKIE FAVORITE NEFF BLASTS TO TOP OF FIELD Neff, Ashley Force Record Two Quickest 1000 Ft. Times of Seasons (RICHMOND, VA) --- Virginia Motorsports Park showed on Friday during the second qualifying session of the Virginia NHRA Nationals that...
ROOKIE FAVORITE NEFF BLASTS TO TOP OF FIELD
Neff, Ashley Force Record Two Quickest 1000 Ft. Times of Seasons
(RICHMOND, VA) --- Virginia Motorsports Park showed on Friday during the second qualifying session of the Virginia NHRA Nationals that you don't have to be a brand new track to give NHRA fans something to rave about. With conditions nearly perfect a cavalcade of Funny Cars rewrote the mythical 1000 foot record book as rookie of the year favorite Mike Neff and the Old Spice Ford Mustang landed on top of the heap with the quickest qualifying run to date, an amazing 4.041 second blast.
If his time holds up it will be his second number one effort of the season. Neff is the only rookie to record a No. 1 qualifier this season previously Bristol
Teammate Ashley Force was the first driver to record a 1000 foot time in the 4.04s passing teammate Robert Hight holder of the fourth quickest 1000 passes before she flew past him with a 4.048 second run. Force was joined in the 4.04 second club by former John Force Racing driver Tony Pedregon who covered 1000 feet in 4.049 seconds
Neff saw Force's epic run and he knew that his crew chief John Medlen was planning on pushing the envelope.
"I thought when Ashley ran that 4.04 I thought 'Wow that is a huge run.' I knew Medlen was trying and if it all went perfect that it might be close. For us to do that that was a lot of fun. It was awesome," said the rookie. "Just to get them (all four JFR Mustangs) all in the top 12 that is our main goal. That was just a great night of qualifying. It has been a long time since you have seen this many cars run this good and breaking the records at 1000 feet. That is all fun and exciting stuff."
Ashley Force was also happy to get from point A to point B with her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. She knows that every run has championship impact at this stage of the season.
"We needed to get into the show because everyone behind us was already in. We aren't disappointed (that Neff passed her in qualifying) but we would have liked to have kept the No. 1 spot. We will totally take No. 2. It was our best time by a mile we have ever had. We are just really pumped," said the only female Funny Car competitor in the Countdown to 1. "We had a clutch timing problem in the first run so to get this run and not have to go into Saturday without the gut ache. To not qualify would kill your Countdown chances. Period."
The Auto Club Ford Mustang piloted by Robert Hight had a frustrating day even though he landed in the No. 6 spot heading into Saturday. The championship caliber team was gunning for the top of the field to reel in his fellow Countdown competitors but a lackluster first run forced his crew chief Jimmy Prock to err on the side of caution in the prime Friday evening conditions.
"Obviously there is more out there. There is lots more out there when guys are running 4.04s. We didn't go the first run so we had to be conservative tonight. We couldn't go out there and try to run 4.04s. We are just glad to be in and in the top half. We wanted to out qualify (Tim) Wilkerson, (Jack) Beckman and Tony Pedregon," said the two-time POWERade Championship runner-up "We got past Wilkerson but it didn't work for the other two. We get a little cloud cover tomorrow and it will continue to be good. We know now what we need to do. A decent run is all we need. If the sun is out and the temperature is up tomorrow you aren't going to see any ohs."
Finally, team leader John Force will have his first qualifying run from Friday carry over into Saturday. Force made the second quickest run of the first session a strong 4.080 which was also his personal best 1000 foot time in 2008.