MIKE NEFF DRIVES ONE TO TOP OF FC FRIDAY FIELD Robert Hight and Auto Club Mustang No. 2 on Friday NORWALK, OH --- The two John Force Racing Mustangs that needed a get well Friday got a lot of good medicine at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports...
MIKE NEFF DRIVES ONE TO TOP OF FC FRIDAY FIELD
Robert Hight and Auto Club Mustang No. 2 on Friday
NORWALK, OH --- The two John Force Racing Mustangs that needed a get well Friday got a lot of good medicine at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park on Friday. Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One Mustang blistered the newly paved track with a 4.190 second run midway through the second qualifying session to grab the provisional number one spot at the 3rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Eight Funny Cars ran after the second year driver and the closest competitor to Neff was teammate Robert Hight who made an impressive 4.214 second pass at an event top speed of 286.07 mph.
Neff was pleased with the Ford Drive One team's performance especially when you consider how important points are with each race moving closer to the cut-off for the Countdown to One.
"The track was tricky today especially that first session. That was a big run for us because we have Ford executives coming out this weekend. For Robert (Hight) to be number two was also big for us. We are both trying to fight our way back into this Countdown to One for the championship," said Neff. "It would be great to qualify number one this weekend. It is exciting. Anytime you can leave the day being number one that is always exciting. It's hard to say what the conditions will be tomorrow but if the sun is out it will take a pretty good run to get around us."
When asked if grabbing the number one qualifying spot away from teammate Ashley Force Hood who has been the team leader in that category in 2009 was an important motivator Neff was diplomatic but also direct.
"We are all doing the best we can. Ashley and her team have done a great job. They have qualified number one a couple of times so it is good for us to have some success. We qualified number two in Englishtown," said Neff. "We have had some good qualifying efforts. It does feel good to get up there and to have Robert Hight right behind us. We are the two that need to kick it in gear and move up in this Countdown."
Neff has steadily improved his qualifying the past four events moving up a spot each race. In Topeka he was No. 4, Chicago No. 3, Englishtown No. 2 and today in he is the provisional No. 1.
Auto Club Ford Mustang driver Robert Hight kicked it into gear both laps today running the second quickest passes of each qualifying session. For a driver who has by his own description struggled in qualifying being at the back of the pack was a welcome respite.
"I told (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) yesterday I don't ever get to walk the track anymore. We are so early in the session that Pro Stocks are running and I can't get out there. I used to always make that part of my routine. I would go out there before every run and look at the track. I would figure out where I needed to be and it would help me clear my head," said Hight. "I haven't had the luxury of doing that because lately we have been struggling in qualifying so we are early up in every session. It was real nice today to be up there, walk the track and even watched a couple of pairs of Funny Cars run. We get to do that tomorrow to which is great."
As the team saw times improving during the second qualifying session they resisted the urge to try and get too aggressive. They knew that getting down the track and gathering data was more important.
"We could have tried to do better and blown it. Jimmy looked at it and saw that we could have done a couple of different things but on a race track that is a little green we raced perfectly. We had top speed. The engine is running good. Trust me this was a good day for us. We got down the track really well twice on Friday," said Hight. "Hopefully we won't try and test too much tomorrow. We'll just tweak what we got and go down there twice tomorrow. We really need to get in position to get down the track every run and start going rounds on Sunday. This is where we need to start doing that."
"I couldn't be happier right now. Neff got number one and we are fine. We aren't the lowest on John Force Racing right now. It is only one race and we have to finish this race off good. Going out here and making good qualifying runs and then losing first round won't do us any good in this chase for a spot in the Countdown. I am excited because we have a mountain to climb and I believe we are all up to the task. It is a challenge," concluded Hight.
In addition to the success of Neff and Hight had today Ashley Force Hood and John Force both qualified in the top half of the field.
Force Hood improved with her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the second session with a 4.241 second pass to land in the provisional fifth qualified spot. She is two spots in front of team owner John Force who raced to the provisional number seven spot with a 4,252 second run piloting his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang.
The two youngest members of John Force Racing, Brittany and Courtney Force, will head into the final session of Top Alcohol qualifying solidly in the show but knowing they will have to continue to run strong. Brittany is in the No. 5 spot (5.415 seconds) and Courtney is No. 11 (5.503 seconds). In the past two races each of the Forces has reached the semi-finals, Courtney in Chicago and Brittany in Englishtown, so they are hoping for continued success in Norwalk.