John Force Racing press release
NEFF ESCAPES DALLAS WITH POINTS LEAD
ENNIS, TX --- The Castrol GTX Ford Mustang and Mike Neff will leave the famed Texas Motorplex with the points lead but he got a little help from two unlikely competitors. In the premiere match-up of the first round at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, points leader Neff dropped a close race to Matt Hagan, No. 2 in points, losing by five thousandths of a second at the finish line. Hagan left the starting line a shade quicker than Neff and his slower 4.172 second pass was enough to get to the stripe first in front of Neff’s 4.151 second run.
After the race Neff did not lose his cool but kept a positive outlook when he was looking at the possibility of losing his points lead if Hagan defeated Melanie Troxel in round two. When he was asked what he would have done differently against Hagan Neff was straightforward and to the point.
“I would have hit the gas six thousandths sooner. Honestly, I am alright. This Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ran exactly what I was shooting for,” said Neff, a five-time winner in 2011. “That is the hard part. We have a great team here and they put up a good run over there. The race was decided by five thousandths of a second. What more can you ask for. You aren’t going to win all those. Like I said our car is running good. I am not discouraged or worried in any way. We have come from behind and won championships before. There are four to go and we’ll be ready.”
Neff will not have to come from behind because in the second round he received a huge boost from Melanie Troxel and Jon Capps as these two non-Countdown drivers eliminated Hagan and Jack Beckman respectively securing the points lead for Neff.
The Castrol GTX Ford Mustang will carry a slim four point lead into the third race of the Countdown. All three John Force Racing Mustangs were eliminated in the first round The last time this occurred JFR bounced back with two consecutive wins by John Force and an unprecedented 15th Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
Besides Neff’s strong 4.15 second lap in a losing effort the first round was forgettable for John Force Racing. Both Robert Hight and John Force smoked the tires in their opening round races.
Team leader John Force was fiery and defiant prior to the second round as he motivated his team for the final four races of the Countdown.
“I already met with my team. I told then, ‘What did you think this was going to be easy?’ This is a dog fight! We have won 17 championships when you walk out of these trailers you walk out like you just won the round,’ said Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“They understand that they know the drill. This fight has only started. I like a good fight. Hagan he fought last year and he didn’t get it. He is going for it this year and so is Mike Neff and so is Robert Hight. So is John Force. There is one Ford left out there and that is Bob Tasca III and I am going to root for him and I am going to root for Melanie Troxel and I am going to root for Cruz Pedregon because they have to do some real damage out there to help us out. We are going to leave here with this points lead because that is how I think and even they get the points lead they are not better than us. It is that simple. Sometimes they get luckier. I ain’t saying they ain’t as good but they are not better. We’ll see this at the World Finals.”