In his grief after Eric Medlen's fatal drag racing crash at Gainesville Raceway in March, team owner John Force said he might not ever run Medlen's car again.
'Eric Medlen was my driver, and it would take a special individual, if ever, to replace him in that seat,' Force said at the time.
Apparently, Force has found such a person. The NHRA legend confirmed during the weekend that Mike 'Zippy' Neff, crew chief for 2005 Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi, will drive a fourth Ford Mustang for Force in 2008. John Medlen, Eric's father, will be the crew chief.
'After Eric's accident, Mike Neff told me that if we were going to keep developing next-generation drivers like Eric and Robert Hight that he might be interested,' Force says now.
Force says that after the two spoke again during the Memorial Day weekend, he called Don Schumacher, Scelzi's car owner, to say he was interested in signing Neff.
'Some of the rumors out there say we stalked him, but we were up front from the start,' Force says.
Eric Medlen suffered fatal closed-head injuries from a severe 'tire shake' following a cut tire while testing after the Gatornationals. Safety enhancements were made to the cars after a thorough investigation.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is often described as a rectangle with four identical corners. Maybe one reason Juan Pablo Montoya has adapted so quickly there is he has seen the subtle differences.
'It's four corners, and they're supposed to be equal, but each one is a little different,' he said. 'Each one has its own little tricks.'
Montoya dominated the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2000 and, in his first NASCAR race there this past weekend, he qualified second and finished second in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Jeff Gordon, after finishing one spot behind Montoya, observed that the former Formula One driver was 'running a totally different line and everything around there.'
HE SAID IT
'My fans like us ... We wear our emotions on our shoulders. Never have to wonder where you stand with us. We're not going to give the vanilla answer. ... The people that want the corporate image, clean cut, short hair, no beard, they pull for somebody else.' - Tony Stewart, on the type of fans who pull for him - and they were out in force for his second Brickyard victory Sunday at Indianapolis.
Jason Leffler gave Toyota its first Busch Series victory over the weekend. Who will give Toyota its first Nextel Cup win: Dave Blaney, Dale Jarrett, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip or somebody not currently driving a Toyota? Vote at TBO.com, Keyword: Auto Racing, and see the results in Sunday's Tribune.