Chat with Mike Neff
Neff was a crew chief until joining JFR in 2007 and he started driving.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, we'll have NHRA Funny Car's points leader Mike Neff stopping by to chat about this weekend's third race in the series' Countdown to the Championship in Reading, Pa.
Neff, who drives for John Force Racing, leads Matt Hagan by just four points in the standings, with four events remaining in the Countdown.
Neff owns six career Funny Car wins, including one earlier this season. He's also been to 15 final rounds in his career.
Send your questions now and join Neff Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (12:50 PM)
NHRA drag racer, and current Funny Car points leader, Mike Neff will be here at the top of the hour to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (1:14 PM)
Hang on folks. We're still waiting for Mike.
Buzzmaster (1:19 PM)
The John Force Racing folks say they've lost Mike Neff and are looking for him near his trailer. So, if you see him, tell him to call.
Buzzmaster (1:21 PM)
Buzzmaster (1:21 PM)
He's chilling in his lounge ready to go!
What are you hoping to see at qualifying this afternoon?
Mike Neff (1:22 PM)
The first run we're thinking the track will be in good condition. We want to get qualified tonight, hopefully in the top 4 or 5.
Derrick Schmaltz (Palmyra, Indiana)
Are you able to feel the car slip on the track and then use that information to make tuning adjustments?
Mike Neff (1:23 PM)
By the time you feel it, the thing about these cars with so much power, once they lose traction, they will usually go right up in smoke. It happens so fast. By the time you realize it, it's up in smoke. It might shake and shudder and you might have time to catch it. But it happens so fast and you might think that it's just about to slip and it's over.
Steve. C (Lansing, IL)
What are the plans for next year? Will you continue to drive or will you go back to tuning John's car?
Mike Neff (1:24 PM)
Right now, it looks like we don't know for sure. There is probably a good chance I will be driving and tuning like I am now.
chris dennis (marathon, fl)
just out of couriousity during reounds between rounds weather it is qualifing or race day how much time between do you spend thinking as a driver versus crew chief??
Mike Neff (1:25 PM)
Most of my thoughts, by far, it's all about the crew chief part. There is so much that goes into it. Things are always changing. The way the car is responding. When I was just a crew chief, that's all I thought about. And now as a driver, that's all I think about. When it's time to get in a car, that's when it's time to think about the driving part.
Hi Mike, What is the track(s) (in the countdown) that you feel the most comfortable with, and which one(s) do you have the biggest reservations about? Thanks!
Mike Neff (1:27 PM)
I like Vegas. We've done good at Vegas. I like Ponoma. We've done well there the last few years. There are really none that I'm uncomfortable with. I like it out west. I like those two the best in this Countdown swing. I also like Phoenix, but we've never been there in October, only in February.
Is the weather good enough for a 3.98 pass?
Mike Neff (1:27 PM)
Yeah. The conditions will definitely be good enough for that.
Derek B (MI)
Do you have any fears driving an 8000 hp fuel funny car?
Mike Neff (1:28 PM)
No, I wouldn't say fear. It's hard to explain. When you get strapped into that car and you start it up, it has your undivided attention. There probably is a small sort of fear, because you never know what to expect or what's going to happen. You don't know what's going to put a cylinder out, go out and catch fire. You just don't know. The element of surprise is always there. There is some anxiety there and wondering what this run will be all about. There is always some suspense, let's say.
Veronica "DragRaceAngel" Allshouse (Cambridge, Ohio)
With Matt Hagan 4 points behind you what are you doing to your car to win rounds and gain more points to stay atop of the Funny Car standings. Are you going agressive or are you keeping it on the cool side and hope all goes well. Good Luck to all the JFR teams.
Mike Neff (1:30 PM)
We'll be on the side of trying to win the race. That's how you get the most points. Through qualifying, you want to position yourself on the top to get lane choice and get those points there. You'll make sure that you go the rounds and get the most points. To set the national record would be great, but there is some risk in that. Then you start going backwards. To take a risk and put yourself in a bad qualifying position, that hurts your chances for Sunday. I focus on what's going to make me the best on Sunday.
Traci (Houston, TX)
Congratulations on your awesome season so far! I wanted to ask you about your working relationship with John Force. You seem very laid back while we all know he is a non-stop whirlwind all the time, so I was wondering if you ever have to try to calm him down or get him to relax when he gets all worked up about your team's performance or if he has learned to trust you and just let you do things your way.
Mike Neff (1:31 PM)
I don't think it would do any good. He does what he does. He's high energy. I love working for him. He's great. He's just a great guy. Always trying to help everybody out. I get a kick out of him. He makes me laugh. When he's telling his stories and ranting and raving like he does, it makes me laugh. Trying to tell him to calm down, it wouldn't do any good.
Rachel (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
What would it mean to win the world championship as both a driver and crew chief?
Mike Neff (1:33 PM)
It would be the biggest thing ever for me. It would be like the pinnacle. I don't know what you could do to pass that. I've won championships as a crew chief, but I never has a driver. That would really make me happy to do that. To be able to do both, it would be hard to put into words how great that would be. We've put a lot of work and effort into this year to be good. We led the points all year. If it weren't for the Countdown, we'd be coasting to a championship. I feel like we're fighting for something that's ours and not letting anyone take it away.
Jesse Carrick (Cookeville, TN)
Hi Mike,I was curious if NHRA crew chiefs utilize factorial experiments (DOE)software as a tool to analyze data relative to the car's performance to enhance on track results or does instinct and experience play a larger role?
Mike Neff (1:34 PM)
It's probably 99% with the on-board computers that monitors the data. After a run, we can download it and see how everything functioned. Then we tune the car based on that information. We do a little off of feel, but you wouldn't be able to make those calls just off of driving it.
James (Rochester, NY)
How do you feel about the season so far?
Mike Neff (1:35 PM)
It's been a great season. Definitely exceeded any expectations that I had going in. It's just been great. We've won five races. We've had some great moments and great races. It's been exciting to be in the points lead most of the year. To have a shot at the title at this point was all I was hoping for. It feels great.
Mike Neff (1:36 PM)
I would like to thank everybody for their support and rooting on Team Force. It will be an exciting race. I think it comes down to Ponoma to decide who wins it. A lot of nailbiting these last few weeks.