Topeka: Mike Neff preview

TEST SESSION SHOULD NET RESULTS FOR NEFF IN TOPEKA TOPEKA (May 25, 2009) --- Following the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang team stayed over on Monday and spent the day testing. His team continues...

TEST SESSION SHOULD NET RESULTS FOR NEFF IN TOPEKA

TOPEKA (May 25, 2009) --- Following the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang team stayed over on Monday and spent the day testing. His team continues to track down a number of gremlins that have stolen the most valuable commodity on the NHRA Full Throttle Series: consistency.

"We were just trying to learn a few things. My Ford Drive One Mustang got better every run. We were trying stuff to make it run quick and fast instead of just trying to lug it to the finish line. We were really trying to make it haul down a hot track. With each run it went further and then further so we feel like we are going in the right direction heading to Topeka," said Neff.

Last year at Heartland Park Neff had an eye-opening experience during qualifying when at the hit of the throttle his steering wheel hit him in the forehead.

"John (Force) told me the same thing had happened to Eric Medlen once too. Luckily it wasn't going any faster than it was. It was only going about 100 mph. It came off and whoosh my hands came up over my head. I was like whoa. I looked up and the thing wasn't going straight. It was going towards the wall. All I thought was don't tell me I am going to run into the guard wall. I knew you couldn't slide it back on so I pushed it on the edge just enough to get a tooth to grab and I got just enough to turn it away from the wall. I almost hit the wall," said Neff after the rookie year experience.

Topeka was also the site of Neff's first career DNQ and the second year driver does not want to repeat that performance either. Sitting in 11th place in points a mere 19 points -- less than one round of racing - behind reigning Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon for the all important 10th spot to secure a chance to race for the Funny Car Full Throttle championship. Neff knows that his current position is not where he thought he would be sitting at this point in the season.

"We are not content with getting this far behind. We never hoped for that or wanted that. It is just kind of the way that it has worked out. We need to get hot by the time they go to cut the points. Ideally you want to be in the top five. Then I would say you had a legitimate chance at winning the championship," said Neff

"People talk about the new Countdown format giving teams that struggle early a better chance to overcome that but I am not so sure. The Countdown format could give you a chance if you get really far behind but the fact of the matter is you still need to be up at least in the middle of Top Ten to really have a legitimate chance of winning a Full Throttle Championship because if you go into the Countdown number nine or ten the odds are already really stacked against you."

This weekend will be Neff's chance to turning his season around. He has the car and the team as well as the confidence. Even though many people might look at this situation as one in need of desperation Neff sees this as an opportunity to showcase the confidence he has in his team led by John Medlen.

"I am in a great organization that will work non-stop to get us going in the right direction. We are not going to let this get us down. I think that you have to take some licks along the way so when you do get that win or that championship you enjoy it that much more because you had to fight for it."

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Eric Medlen , John Medlen , Mike Neff