SENSATIONAL COMEBACK BY MEARS; EARNS TOP-11 FINISH AT WILD DAYTONA
Daytona Beach, FL (July 5, 2015) - Casey Mears entered the Daytona weekend holding the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' longest current string of top-10's at the famed superspeedway. Armed with a strong racecar, the Germain Racing team hit the track in fast fashion.
The No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS was 15th quickest in the opening practice session before ending up 13th fastest in happy hour. Inclement weather entered the equation early at Daytona when lightning and light rain caused the cancelation of Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The field would be set according to the practice speeds from the first practice, which would place Mears 15thon the Coke Zero 400 starting grid.
Mother Nature once again had her way with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, causing nearly a four-hour rain delay and pushing the start of the 400-mile race to nearly midnight. The No. 13 GEICO Chevy started the Coke Zero 400 from the 15th position and didn't have to wait long to begin dodging racecars. Just three laps into the 160-lap event, Mears found himself exercising evasive maneuvers when a crash that involved nine cars brought out the first of nine caution flags early in the race.
Mears looked strong until the lap 57 restart heard him report to crew chief Bootie Barker that the GEICO Chevy's engine shut off, causing him to lose power and free-fall through the field, bottoming out in the 35th position. He was able to regain power, but the situation left the team searching for a solution. Fortunately, another caution flag slowed the field immediately, allowing Mears the opportunity to bring his car to the attention of the Germain Racing pit crew. After checking all connections, everything appeared to be in working order as the race returned to green on lap 63. The problem would persist and it would later be determined that there was a bad sensor in the braking system that caused the car to believe the throttle was stuck which caused it to shut off whenever Mears engaged the brakes.
A big crash on lap 105 brought out the yellow flag and provided the opportunity for the GEICO pit crew to fix the braking sensor issue. They took swift action and rectified the problem without losing a lap to the field. Upon his return to the racing surface, Mears indicated that the issue had been resolved.
When the green flag once again turned the Sprint Cup Series loose with just 46 laps left in the advertised distance, he was ready to recover lost ground and return to the front of the field. The hard charging Mears restarted 26th and within three laps had collected 12 spots and took over the 14thposition. Then, with 40 to go, he moved the GEICO Chevy into eighth place before capturing the fourth position with only 27 laps remaining, where the top-five cars ran single-file. As he diced his way through the field, Mears was consistently one of the fastest cars on the track as the race began to wind down.
The final yellow flag of the evening waved over the field with just five laps remaining, leaving just enough time for an exciting green-white-checkered finish. After being held up by a fellow competitor on the previous run, Mears was shuffled back to 14th, which is the position from which he would take the final green flag of the evening.
On the final restart, Mears quickly picked up five spots and moved into ninth as he took the white flag. The final lap saw Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet being shoved hard into the outside wall, causing heavy damage to his car as he crossed the finish line and scored an 11th place finish. It was the beginning of a dramatic crash just passed the start/finish line that started when Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick made contact. The result was the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon going airborne, just over the top of Mears and his GEICO Chevy, into the catchfence in front of a grandstand full of fans. Crews from multiple race teams, including Germain Racing, quickly darted onto the racetrack to tend to Dillon, who later was able to walk away from the frightening incident that horrified everyone on hand.
In the garage after the race, Mears was quick to offer praise for his GEICO Racing team who worked hard all night to keep him in contention.
"All you can ask for is to have a shot at the end and we had that with a really fast racecar. The guys on this Germain Racing team worked hard all night and did a great job of getting the brake issue resolved without us losing a lap, which was significant in me being able to get the GEICO Chevy back up front and have a chance there at the end," Mears said as he surveyed his heavily damaged racecar. "It's amazing that we can make it through the entire race unscathed and then get tore up as we're crossing the finish line. It was a relief to learn that there were no serious injuries among the fans in the grandstand. We're all glad that Austin is okay and I'm proud of our Germain guys for getting out there to check on him so quickly. In NASCAR, we all look after each other and it's comforting to know when something bad happens that everyone will be there for you."
Mears has now scored an eye-catching five consecutive top-11 finishes at the high-banked 2.5-mile superspeedway, which sets him among the tops in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona. His effort accounts for Germain Racing's fifth top-15 finish of the 2015 season and leaves him closely eyeing the top-20 in the point standings. After Sonoma, Mears was 23 points out of 20th, but he departs Daytona Beach just eight points removed after closing the gap by a hefty 15-points.
Next up for Mears and Germain Racing is a trip to the Bluegrass state. The race weekend will kick-off with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday, which will allow teams the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new rules package.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the 1.5-mile paved oval for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, July 10th, at 10:30 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 5:45 PM (ET).
The Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Saturday, July 11th, and it will be televised live on NBC Sports beginning at 7:30 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Please visit www.GEICO.com to learn how you could save money on more than just auto insurance.
To learn more about the GEICO Racing program, please visit: www.caseymearsracing.com
You can also follow GEICO Racing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/geicoracing
To learn more about Germain Racing, please visit www.GermainRacing.com
- PMI -