Editor’s note: Mike Neff is a native of Hemet and serves as crew chief for Robert Hight, who drives the Auto Club-sponsored John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car.
Decision-making is pretty much everything. The decisions you make are based off the changing conditions, the track, weather, parts and all the variables — there are a lot of decisions that you make.
Here in Pomona, it’s been tricky. The starting line at Pomona, historically, has not been one of the best, as far as traction goes. We raced a couple months ago, and even on the good runs, it was somewhat similar to what we had today, yet the track is acting totally different than it did then.
We’ve been behind, not aggressive enough, trying to get enough wheel speed. We struggled with that Friday.
With a lot of the decisions, you’re taking your best educated guess — your gut feeling. There are a lot of ways to skin the cat, a lot of different ways to get there, to make it work. It’s not like only one way works, so you’re dealing with your setup, with things you have to do to make the car respond and it may be a little different for somebody else.
There is no instruction manual: it’s something you feel from the seat of your pants from run to run, race to race, and it always seems to be changing. That’s the name of the game and that’s what makes it so exciting because it’s always something new. It’s a never-ending challenge and something you never conquer.
You can absolutely have too much information. You don’t want to get caught up in what other cars are doing or even your own team cars. Yes, we have all the same stuff, and certainly we look at our other two Funny Cars and we all look at everything collectively.
But you go through times where all the cars are set up exactly the same, and it all works. Other times, it doesn’t work. You have to keep working on each car individually for what it’s telling you to do. They cross paths sometimes, sometimes you’re close, sometimes you’re not. It’s part of the challenge of it all.
Sometimes things just work and you roll in and your setup hits it just right and you have a relatively easy weekend. Other times you roll into a place and your setup is just not working. It’s a struggle and you have to make a lot of changes trying to get to where you need to be.
First race, we’re trying some different parts, different pieces, so it takes some times to get it worked out. Hopefully, we learned enough Friday so we can get it where we need to be today.
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