Mark Neff Looks to Turn His Luck Around at Irwindale Speedway Debutadmin
For Immediate Release: SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series
Bakersfield, CA – Berthoud, CO driver Mark Neff will make the trip to Irwindale Speedway for the “Spears Manufacturing 100” for the Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series on April 10th. It will be Neff’s fourth start in the series, but his first at “LA’s favorite short track”. Neff is excited to get back to the track, after a long Winter waiting to have his VanDoorn Racing Development Super Late Model repaired. He is eager for the challenge to get back to a track that resembles another facility, at which he has had success.
“Needless to say, I am very excited to make my first start at Irwindale Speedway”, Neff exclaimed! “I’ve been there multiple times, helping out other teams. I always hear from the other drivers at how fun the track is to drive. We’ve also found success at multi-groove tracks like Tucson (Speedway), where we won a couple of Qualifying races and backed that up with a P2 in the 2020 Chilly Willy. So, I am beyond excited to see how quickly we can adapt to Irwindale.”
Neff participated in his first two SPEARS Southwest Tour Series events in 2019. He finished eighth at both the Bullring at LVMS and the October Classic at Kern County Raceway. He was a regular competitor at Colorado National Speedway (CNS), but began to branch out in recent seasons. He had 25 career feature victories, and three in Super Late Models, after recently moving into the division. He was third in the 2018 CNS Super Late Model Standings, finishing a mere four points behind multi-time champion Darren Robertson. Neff was the 2015 Late Model, and 2013 Pro Truck Track Champion. He holds two Rookie-of-the-Year titles, one in the Pro Truck, and the other in the Super Late Model Division.
But since his second in the 2020 “Chilly Willy 150” last January, Neff has had a string of bad luck. He managed a fifth at the “Labor Day 100” for the ARCA CRA Super Series at Lebanon I-44 Speedway (MO), but misfortune has followed him beyond that. He finished 22nd at the SRL’s 2020 October Classic and failed to get through practice at the “Retro Custom Metals 137” at the Bullring. It was an event that put his racing on hold for nearly five months.
“I personally have been on quite the string of bad luck that seemed to last all of 2020”, Neff recalled. “Not only did we destroy the car on lap eight in practice in Vegas, due to the freeze plug popping out, we also managed to destroy two transmissions racing in Missouri and a ball joint came apart on our last trip to Kern. To keep behind the wheel, my dad also let me run his enduro car in a 300-lap race here in Colorado, that ended in another crash on lap 27. It is, without a doubt, difficult to stay sharp when you are not racing much. Luckily, we are going to shake the car down out here in Colorado, and I have been on the simulator pretty consistently, trying to do everything I can to be prepared.”
With the recent challenges that Neff has faced, his goals are somewhat modest for his return. He knows the driver and team are capable of a strong run at Irwindale, but wants to first finish before contemplating finishing first.
“Given all the struggles I’ve already mentioned, one of my goals is to see the checkered flag”, Neff admitted. “Of course, our team has higher expectations to finish well, but I think we first need to focus on running all the laps and I think the results will speak for themselves. I know we’ve got a great setup for the car from Butch VanDoorn, so it’ll be up to me to take care of it and see if we can’t find ourselves on the front straight after the race with a top-five finish.”
Neff has enjoyed his opportunities to compete with the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series in the past. He has been on the wrench end of things helping Jace Hansen, as well as behind the wheel. His four race attempts resulted in his two eighth place finishes, while qualifying into the top eight redraw twice.
“The whole teams loves when we have the opportunity to race with the SRL”, Neff stated. “Between the high level of competition, the respect, and the way Larry (Collins) and team run the series, it’s always a pleasure when we are able to come out west.”
It is not easy to make the 1,000 plus mile trip to Irwindale Speedway, and Neff is thankful for those who have made the journey possible. He has the support of his car owners, sponsors, friends, family and the whole Rocky Mountain Motorsports (RMM) team.
The top of my list for thankyou’s would be Kevin Steinke and Melissa Thompson Steinke and the entire RMM Team”, Neff expressed. “We have become more and more of a family over the years, and I’m so thankful to be a part of that program. Another huge thankyou goes out to my dad and Neff Racing for helping us with the repair bill, to get our car back together. I’d like to thank my mom and @irenesmithhomes, Royal Purple, VanDoorn Racing Development, my wife Lori Neff, and a special thanks to my mother-in-law Cathy Pitz, for also sponsoring us!”
Saturday’s action will begin at 10:30 am for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Super Late Models with a 45-minute practice session. Qualifying will begin at 1:25 pm (PST) with the SPEARS Pro Late Models Series presented by Sigma Performance Services up first on the inner 1/3-mile. The SPEARS Modified Series is scheduled for 1:45 pm with the Super Late Models at 2:05 pm. Spectator Gates 2:00 pm with Opening Ceremonies set for 3:00 pm. The Irwindale Speedway local divisions will also be on the card, making it a jammed packed evening of excitement at LA’s immaculate ½-mile oval.
Main Events kick off at 3:15 pm, with the LKQ Pick Your Parts Pro Late Models first on the card, for the local divisions. The SPEARS Modifieds will run 75 laps as well as the SPEARS Pro Late Model Division. The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Super Late Models will be on track for 100 laps, racing for $5,000. Other local divisions include the Tucker Tire Enduros, Street Stocks, INEX Legends and the YouRaceLA Spec Racers.
For those who can not attend, catch the action LIVE at www.SpearsRacing.TV and on a delayed basis on MAVTV. Updates will be posted on the series Twitter page, as well as on Facebook.
Celebrating its twenty-first season in 2021, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series…Where the Champions Race”.