Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals
Neff hoping Infineon Raceway is lucky track
Sonoma, pre-race: When Mike Neff pulled his Old Spice Ford Mustang up beside rookie of the year competitor Bob Tasca III in the first round of the Schuck’s Auto Parts Supply for their first head to head match-up of the season he was focused on more than just advancing his bid to become the third JFR driver to win the Automobile Club of California Road to the Future Award. Neff was looking to move up the point standings and solidify his position in the Top Ten with only four races left before the cut-off for the Countdown.
Neff knew he was going to need to be on top of his game versus Tasca, the former Top Alcohol Funny Car racer. He got the win over Tasca and a leg up in the rookie of the year contest with a hole shot victory.
“It rolled in there deeper than I wanted it to. I saw the top bulb go out. Tasca is a good leaver and I knew I had to be ready. I tried to get in there a little bit to not give him any advantage. That was a big race for the Old Spice Ford which is running good. It is going to be an exciting day out here. This 1,000 foot has really made it interesting.”
That round win was the highlight of the weekend for Neff but he is still looking for his first national event win. The former crew chief knows that there are some tracks that teams just have more luck at and he is hoping that Infineon Raceway might be his lucky track.
“The fact that you are lucky at some tracks plays into it as a crew chief. You have those places that you just seem to run better. They just fit your tune-up and combination. It just seemed like there were just some places you ran good as well as you’d have a couple of places that you didn’t do any good at all. As far as being the driver I am not sure. All these places are new to me as the driver. I haven’t found my lucky track yet,” said Neff.
As the third stop on the Western Swing the 21st annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals offers Neff the hottest commodity for the rookie driver, consistent seat time behind the wheel of his BOSS 500 powered Ford Mustang. Getting to race back to back has the former off-road truck racer smiling as he evaluates his improvement as a Funny Car driver.
“It is kind of helpful. The more runs I can make and the closer together the runs are together is good. Racing week to week you get in and you don’t feel like you have to retrain yourself. That is a benefit. It helps to keep you in a groove,” added Neff.
Neff was disappointed he did not go more rounds last week in Seattle but the newest member of John Force Racing knows that every run he makes adds to his repertoire as a driver. As the team adjusts to new tires and the 1,000 foot racing distance Neff knows that he has time to move up the points ladder.
“Winning that second round would have been a good opportunity to go some rounds which would have helped our cause. We just made one little mistake. We are still adapting to the new tire with our set-up. We’ll make some changes and next time we get on a hot track we’ll know what kind of changes we need to make. We had a good qualifying spot. We made four good runs this weekend. I felt like we had a chance. The positive is all the guys behind us went out as well so we didn’t really get hurt. We are still hanging in there.”
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