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Keeping Pace

Neff knows countdown clock ticking down

Last year in Memphis Mike Neff had a dominant car. He qualified No. 4 and soundly beat Jeff Arend and Jack Beckman but he ran into No.1 qualifier Force Hood in the semis and his race day was over.  This year Neff is hoping to extended his race day and avoid another run in with his teammates.


Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Memphis, TN- With only four race left in the Countdown to 1 Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One team know they need to make a move and it needs to happen quickly. Time is not on their side.

They had a solid race car in Dallas but for the second race in a row they ran into the Ashley Force Hood Castrol GTX Mustang buzz saw. In Charlotte they were forced to race one of the hottest teams of 2009 in the opening round and in Dallas they met in the second round. With temperatures soaring and the right lane of the Motorplex’s all-concrete race surface going away Neff really did not stand a chance against Force Hood in the re-match.

“It was an exceptionally warm weekend here. We struggled with keeping it from spinning the tires and putting cylinders out. That was our downfall. Looking at the weather it should be cooler in Memphis so basically we just will try and get back on track. The car has been running good. It was just a matter getting it consistent and keeping it running on eight cylinders. I think we will be in good shape for Memphis.”

Getting in good shape for Memphis could mean a Hight-like run up the point standings. Heading into Memphis Neff is 30 points behind No. 8 Tim Wilkerson, 32 points behind No. 7 John Force and 48 points behind No. 6 Ron Capps. Those three drivers have four first round losses between them in the first two Countdown races. Neff is currently 9th in the Full Throttle standings. He moved up one spot in the Countdown in Dallas but the dilemma of Countdown math is he fell back 39 points from the top spot.

Neff was the only John Force Racing driver not to gobble up any of the all-important qualifying bonus points at O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals. In Charlotte the first race Countdown points were available to the three quickest drivers during the qualifying session Neff only collected three points. In contrast Hight has picked up seven points and teammate Ashley Force Hood as picked up ten points the past two races.

Neff knows that there are opportunities of his John Medlen tuned Mustang to get on a roll and when that happens good things can occur.

“It is still tight so there are absolutely opportunities to move up the points. One good race and you can pass quite a few guys. That is what we are shooting for. We just need one good one. We could move up into the middle and then see what happens,” said Neff.

Last year in Memphis Neff had a dominant car. He qualified No. 4 and soundly beat Jeff Arend and Jack Beckman but he ran into No.1 qualifier Force Hood in the semis and his race day was over.  This year Neff is hoping to extended his race day and avoid another run in with his teammates.


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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