CASEY MEARS’ ATLANTA RUN GOES UP IN SMOKE
Player Management International Media Release
HAMPTON, Ga. (September 2, 2012) – Atlanta Motor Speedway is known for fast speeds and drivers holding the gas pedal wide-open around the entire 1.5-mile quad-oval. Add in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series making their one and only stop in Georgia along with temperatures above 90 degrees, and a classic showdown was sure to be in the cards.
Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team entered the Peachtree State with a plan of attack – keep the No. 13 Ford Fusion in one piece and continue their string of strong runs. After struggling in the opening practice session, Mears clocked a solid lap of 30.117 seconds in qualifying to place the Germain Racing entry in the 19th starting position.
As the green flag waved to start the 325-lap race, Mears quickly reported a tight handling condition and that the No. 13 entry wouldn’t turn in the corners. The first caution flag flew on lap 40 for oil on the track, which allowed the GEICO machine to come to pit road. The Bakersfield, California native received four fresh tires, fuel, and adjustments. Mears restarted on lap 44 from the 29th position.
Mears continued to wheel the GEICO Fusion despite reporting to crew chief Bootie Barker: “feels like it wants to spin out around the entire corner.” A 90 lap caution-free run forced teams to make two green flag pit stops. Barker brought Mears to the attention of his crew on lap 75 and lap 109; each stop resulting in four tires, fuel, and adjustments in an effort to improve handling. The second caution of the night came on lap 131 for debris on the backstretch. Mears visited pit road for tires, fuel and additional adjustments, before returning to green flag conditions on lap 135.
Another lengthy green flag run commenced and lasted for over 100 laps, forcing Barker to bring Mears back to pit road twice more. The over-the-wall crew held positions on pit road while making wedge and air pressure adjustments. By lap 230, Mears was scored in the 30th position but reported to his GEICO team that the car reacted better to the wedge adjustment. The third caution came on lap 243 and Barker instructed Mears to take the wave around to regain a lap to the leaders.
The GEICO Ford Fusion restarted from the 27th position on lap 248. Two quick cautions came over the next seven laps, allowing Mears to come back down pit road for tires and fuel. On lap 280, Mears restarted from the 24th position and looked to move inside the top-20. However, eleven short laps later, smoke came billowing from the rear of the No. 13 Fusion and the rear tires locked up, ending Mears’ night early. As the checkered flag flew, Mears was credited with a 33rd-place finish.
“We struggled at the beginning of the race with the handling,” said Mears, after the race. “Once Bootie (Barker) made the wedge adjustment, our GEICO Ford Fusion really started to handle better. Unfortunately, I saw the heavy smoke and our night ended early. The rear tires just locked up on me. We will head back to the shop and figure out what caused it. Proud of all the guys for hanging in there and we will head to Richmond. We always look forward to racing in GEICO’s backyard.”
Mears and the No. 13 GEICO team head to Richmond International Raceway for short-track action on Saturday, September 8th. Catch all the action live on ABC, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also have the live radio broadcast.
To learn more about the GEICO Racing program, visit: www.geicogarage.com
You can also follow GEICO Racing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/geicoracing