Mike Neff · Friday March 8, 2013
Since last season ended, Ashley and I have had a very busy offseason. We started out spending Thanksgiving in Illinois with our families which was quite a gathering, especially with Ashley’s family. It was a nice opportunity to relax for a little while. With the racing schedule as busy as it is, we only get to go home a couple of times a year so getting to spend time with our family during the offseason is extra special.
We then jumped on a plane and went on a mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico. We got to go to some orphanages and give to some children who don’t have near the blessings that we have here in the United States. It was with a group from Back2Back ministries which includes Gil and Ford Martin and Jeff Green. We didn’t get to spend as much time down there as we normally have, but it was still a great time for the couple of days that we were down there with all of the kids at the different orphanages that we visited. It was especially enjoyable getting to see Magali, a young girl that Ashley and I sponsor down there.
We came back to the states and headed back to Illinois to spend Christmas with our families. It was the best Christmas ever because we were able to tell our parents that we are expecting our first baby. I know we waited until last week to break the news to everyone else but we wanted to make sure that we were past the first tri-mester before we announced it to the world. We don’t know what we’re going to have yet but we will find out in a couple of weeks so we’ll be sure and include that in the next edition of the diary. It was very hard to not tell anyone over the last couple of months, especially for someone who likes to talk as much as I do.
After Christmas, we headed to Tulsa to run the Chili Bowl. It was the first time that I had run at the Chili Bowl in six years. It was the first time I’d been in an open-wheel car, besides a modified, since I’d been in the Chili Bowl last time. We ran pretty well. We finished eighth in our preliminary night with only three cylinders. We ran the B-main and started near the front but unfortunately the night ended early, along with our chance to make the A-main. What a great accomplishment though to run with the best midget drivers in the world and be up front in the B-main before crashing out. It was still a great run and I hope we’ll get a chance to run a couple more races this season to be ready when the 2014 Chili Bowl comes around.
After the Chili Bowl, we did a bunch of traveling. We made a couple of show appearances with Brandt at San Diego and Orlando. They are such a great sponsor and I love getting the chance to do things with them, for both their customers and their employees. Ashley and I also went on a K-Love Christian Radio Cruise to Cozumel. We got to spend a little time in Cozumel at an orphanage. It always touches my heart to be able to bring a little happiness to the children down in some of the less fortunate areas of the world. It is really neat to see how something as simple as some silly bands can bring so much joy to a kid.
Once we wrapped up getting most of the rest of our preseason work done, we headed to Daytona. We not only ran at the big track, but we raced the Modified every night at Volusia. We ended up third in points in the DIRTCar Nationals, which was pretty impressive considering we crashed the first night there during hot laps and moved the front clip two inches to the left. I can only imagine how good we’d have done if we’d had the car straight.
Then we raced the Nationwide race and had a good run. I was pushing Brian Scott to the line at the end when they told me they were wrecking in front of us. Unfortunately, on the last lap, you have to push for all you can so I stayed in the gas and we drove into it. My hood popped up almost immediately after my spotter told me they were wrecking so I didn’t really see anything. I’m just really glad to know that all of the fans that were injured are doing better. We ended up seventh so, all things considered, we can’t complain.
We headed on to Phoenix and had a great run with the Brandt Chevrolet, coming home in third place. As a result, we’re tied for first in the points. I hope we can stay there all season. I think I’ve got a great team and we’re ready to make a run at the championship. We are getting ready for Vegas having a bunch of fun with a lot of the employees of Brandt. We had a party Thursday night and we’ll do another one on Friday night. This is the biggest thing we do outside of Chicago for the Brandt employees every year.
I’m also running a go-kart for fun up at the Mooresville Motorplex, along with my good friend Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and a lot of other drivers. I’m hoping to get a kart together this year to run at Millbridge Speedway too. We have a ton of fun running there on Wednesday nights. That’s about all I have for now. I look forward to seeing the fans at the track and catching up with you next month in my next addition of the diary.
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