Norwalk: Mike Neff preview

NEFF'S CONSISTENT MUSTANG LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN NORWALK, OH (June 22, 2009) --- Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang team are slowly closing the gap on moving into the Full Throttle Top Ten. Unfortunately with every passing race...

NEFF'S CONSISTENT MUSTANG LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN

NORWALK, OH (June 22, 2009) --- Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang team are slowly closing the gap on moving into the Full Throttle Top Ten. Unfortunately with every passing race opportunities are slipping away. Entering the 3rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series reaches its technical halfway point (12 of 24 events), but there are only seven more races to get into the all-important Top Ten.

Neff's Ford Drive One Mustang team is a mere eight points behind rookie Matt Hagan sitting in the odd man out 11th position in points. For the 2008 Rookie of the Year he knows his position in the Full Throttle points is not reflective of how his John Medlen tuned Mustang is performing.

"The performance of the car is getting better every race. It is performing at the top of the pack. That is a good thing. We lost a close race to Tim Wilkerson (in the second round at Englishtown). Technically on a hole-shot," said Neff.

"That is not good. Everybody has to be on. We are not getting any breaks. We all have to do our jobs and be on. Medlen and the boys are doing their job and I have to make sure I am doing my job. Part of the deal is getting the performance back to where it needed to be. It's there now. I feel confident we will start moving up the points now."

When asked if he felt pressure as a second year driver and being put in the position of having to battle to get into the Top Ten the World Champion crew chief did not accept the premise of the question.

"The pressure doesn't bother me. Even the inexperience doesn't bother me. I don't feel inexperienced any more. It is about performing at a high enough level to get the job done. The racing is so tight now you have to be on all the time. You can't afford to slip up even a little bit," said Neff.

The Funny Car class, while down in overall entrant numbers, has never been more competitive when you consider the current class of competitors from top to bottom. In the No. 11 spot Neff is only 50 points behind No. 7 Bob Tasca III, 537 to 587. That is less than three rounds of racing at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. One strong race day performance can elevate Neff right into the Countdown mix.

The key Neff knows is translating qualifying consistency into race day performance.

"It is a team effort here. We are all working together. That is also what makes Funny Car racing so exciting. It is the top category in drag racing in my opinion. It is so close competitively. These races are being decided by a few thousandths of a second on a regular basis. That is just part of how intense it is," added Neff.

In Chicago Neff had the most consistent Funny Car on the property as he made seven consecutive laps with an average elapsed time of 4.116 seconds and he raced to the semi-finals. In Englishtown he qualified No. 2, dispatched Jerry Toliver in round one with the quickest run of the day a blistering 4.051 second run, and then fell to Tim Wilkerson even though he ran a quicker 4.167 second elapsed time. The veteran Wilkerson got the starting line jump with a quicker reaction time to take the win.

In a class decided by thousandths of a second both on race car and driver performance Neff knows he will have to bring his "A" game to Norwalk as well as the remaining races before the cut-off for the Countdown to 1.

"We have high expectations with this Ford Drive One Mustang team. I have total confidence in John Medlen and our crew. Our Mustang has been performing at the top of the class in qualifying the last couple of race. We haven't made the most of our opportunities on race day but that is something I am working one every time I get in this Mustang. We have a great team at John Force Racing and we are all working together to get every Mustang into the Top Ten so we can all have a shot at racing for a championship. We are headed that direction," concluded Neff.

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Matt Hagan , Bob Tasca III , John Medlen , Mike Neff