Last year, John Force Racing had all four cars in the Countdown to One. Robert Hight won the Funny Car title, and Ashley Force Hood finished second. However, John Force finished ninth and Mike Neff finished 10th.
“Did my ego like four? Yes,” he said. “But a man can only be in so many places at once. Let’s make a comparison: Having three wives. Be a little tough to keep ‘em all happy. I can’t keep one wife happy. Four? I can’t even imagine. That’s what it’s like having four race teams.”
But Neff stayed within the organization, and is now working as a crew chief for JFR.
“Nobody smarter than Coil,” Force said. “Every championship (14 of them) has been with him. Every win (129). But I had to stir that pot with him and Bernie Fedderly. I had to get some young blood in here. Different attitude.
“Coil joked in an interview once, likened us to a bunch of old dogs lying on the couch. And this young kid Neff came in, running all around and got us all to get up off the couch and got us moving. Put us back in the ballgame.”
JFR currently sits 1-2-3 in the Funny Car standings. John Force is in first, while Force Hood is in second and Hight is in third, and Force and Hight have combined to win five of the first eight NHRA events this season. It's a turnaround -- if you can even call it that -- that most closely resembles the leap in performance that Richard Childress Racing made after it downsized from four teams to three for 2010.
Yes, it's early, but the 14 time champion and his team are back.