NEFF'S BUSY DAY ALMOST PERFECT, JFR GRABS TOP SPOTS PHOENIX --- On a day when thoughts were focused on crew chief John Medlen who was recuperating in Indianapolis, teammate and driver Mike Neff stepped up and showed why he is one of the best ...
NEFF'S BUSY DAY ALMOST PERFECT, JFR GRABS TOP SPOTS
PHOENIX --- On a day when thoughts were focused on crew chief John Medlen who was recuperating in Indianapolis, teammate and driver Mike Neff stepped up and showed why he is one of the best young tuning minds in the sport. Neff tuned and drove the Ford Drive One Mustang to the number two qualifying position with a stellar 4.050 second run and class leading mile per hour of 309.06 mph. It was a busy and mentally draining day for the man who tuned Gary Scelzi to the Funny Car world championship in 2005.
"Yeah for sure this has been my busiest day as a drag racer. My brain has been going non-stop. I haven't been physically going all over the place. I was able to sit down and think but yeah there were a lot of thoughts going through my head. I definitely feel relieved now," said the 2008 Rookie of the Year. "Thankfully we have a great crew and we got great help from everybody like Jimmy Prock, Robert Hight, Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly, Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas. They all pitched in and helped us out with any questions that we have had. Collectively we were able to get through today."
Neff knew that what he had accomplished was special considering how rare it is for a driver to also tune his fuel coupe in this day and age. He also knew that he was part of a system built by John Medlen that was operating on a higher plain.
"There are not too many people that have been involved in the tuning of their own car. There are a couple guys that have done it. It was really neat. It was really rewarding but it is not just me. We are all collectively working on it together. Mostly it is all John Medlen," said Neff. "We are just doing what he would be doing. It is a unique position to be in and it has definitely been an exciting day. I feel a whole better now that we have made two good runs. It feels good right now at this point."
Fans can send John Medlen e-mails at email@example.com. Medlen is in an Indianapolis hospital recovering from having a stent inserted around his heart. Late Thursday night Medlen felt chest discomfort and admitted himself to an Indianapolis area hospital to be examined.
Neff is leading the charge for John Force Racing on the performance scale after the first day of qualifying at the 25th annual Lucas Slick Mist NHRA Nationals but he is being followed closely by Robert Hight and John Force.
Hight held the number one spot for most of the second session after his Auto Club Ford Mustang covered the 1000 foot racing distance in 4.077 seconds. He was comfortable with the run but he also knew that they were trying some new parts and there is more upside on the horizon for his team.
"That second run was smooth. We were a little on the cautious side. We didn't want to screw up. You can see that by our incremental numbers. It didn't hurt anything and the motor ran nice all the way to the finish line. I knew it wasn't going to stay number one. Number four ain't bad either," said Hight.
"We are going to try testing one run tomorrow. We are in a good enough position that we can do that. Testing time is hard to come by right now. We are going to use one run on Saturday when we can to test. In some ways you can say we tested today. We put a whole lot of new stuff on the car today. We had a totally different clutch in it."
14-time Funny Car champion John Force is in the number five position with a strong 4.089 second run. The winningest driver in NHRA history was pleased with his team's effort.
Ashley Force Hood struggled during the sessions on Friday as her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang fought the Phoenix track. Her second round qualifying effort of 5.003 was the 16th quickest of the day but will not carry over into Saturday. Force Hood will start with a clean slate as she and four other drivers vie for the four remaining Funny Car positions.
Force Hood was optimistic that the John Force Racing team attitude would carry the day on Saturday.
"Last year we lost a day of qualifying when Friday rained out. We struggled on Saturday that year. Last race in Pomona we had rain and luckily we got in on our one qualifying shot. That is never how you want a weekend to go," said the 2007 Rookie of the Year. "It is great to have the blue skies and sunny weather. We can't ask for more than that. We get another two shots tomorrow fortunately the new qualifying system helps us. Tomorrow we'll get our two good runs in. We ran well here in testing. Hopefully today was our practice day and tomorrow we will get down the track."
JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 5th at 4.089 seconds, 298.14 MPH
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 16th quickest time on Friday at 5.003 seconds, 183.27 mph
Quotable: "The other crew chiefs are the people we go to for advice and we help them sometimes too. All three of the four teams that are in the show are made of the same stuff we are so tomorrow may be our day to shine."
ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 4th at 4.077 seconds, 303.71 mph
Quotable: "We'll keep working in the right direction. What we are trying to do with this testing on Saturday is we'll use one run to get ready for Sunday. If the test run goes well during the first run we might stay with that in the second run. This might save us one of our four days the NHRA allows us to test so we can save those days for Indianapolis or Charlotte later in the season when we need it for the Countdown."
MIKE NEFF, 41, Drive One Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 2nd at 4.050 seconds, 309.06 mph
Quotable: "Yeah for sure this has been my busiest day as a drag racer. My brain has been going non-stop. I haven't been physically going all over the place. I was able to sit down and think but yeah there were a lot of thoughts going through my head. I definitely feel relieved now. Thankfully we have a great crew and we got great help from everybody like Jimmy Prock, Robert Hight, Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly, Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas. They all pitched in and helped us out with any questions that we have had. Collectively we were able to get through today."