FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STRONG 'DEGA WEEKEND CONTINUES ROLL FOR MEARS AND THE GECKO
Talladega, AL (May 4, 2014) - When Casey Mears and his GEICO team arrived in Talladega for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' second restrictor-plate race of the 2014 season, they were coming off of strong runs at Darlington and Richmond. As the season begins to move along, Mears and company were looking to keep the momentum rolling at a track where they have historically experienced considerable success.
Mears wasted little time getting settled and shot his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS up to 15th on the speed chart in the weekend's opening practice session on Friday. Saturday saw the Bakersfield, CA, native flanked by former University of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, an Alabama legend. McCarron's national championship touch must've rubbed off on the GEICO team, as Mears hustled to a fourth place starting position by the time qualifying came to a close. His lap of 48.518-seconds, at a speed of 197.370 miles per hour, accounted for Germain Racing's best qualifying effort of the 2014 season.
A sky full of Alabama sunshine and a full house provided the backdrop for Sunday's Aaro n's 499. Mears rolled off of the starting grid from the fourth position when the green flag turned the field loose for a full afternoon of bumper-to-bumper racing. Business picked up quick and the field soon found themselves three-wide in the opening laps. After running at the front of the field for the first 35 laps, the engine of Mears' No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS warmed up considerably before he reported to crew chief Bootie Barker that his temperature was up to 290-degrees. He elected to fall to the rear of the field in an effort to allow his engine to cool and also miss any potential crashes that are characteristic of restrictor-plate racing. He informed Barker that the GEICO Chevy was strong and it would not be a problem to get back to the front.
Mears led three laps over the course of the race and would often move effortlessly to the front of the field whenever he desired. Barker started thinking fuel strategy and had his driver pit under the lap 138 caution in order to take on tires and have gasman Ben Runge pack his GEICO machine full of Sunoco racing fuel. When the race returned to green with 45 laps remaining in the advertised distance, Barker told Mears that he would need to run in the back and save fuel for 20 laps. A few laps later, Mears said, "We can save fuel, but if we don't make a move it's going to stay three-wide until the end and then we'll have a hard time getting up there." Barker in turn asked Mears to be patient and play the strategy out because he would be there at the end.
With just 38 laps left, David Gilliland brought out the yellow flag when his engine expired and left oil on the racing surface. Barker's strategy was fruitful and the cars in front of Mears all needed to pit for fuel, while the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet was good on fuel for the balance of the 188-lap event. When the green flag once again set the field underway, Mears was now all the way up in the 12th position, as Barker's strategy played out perfectly and put the GEICO car up front as the race began to wind down. On the restart, Barker turned Mears loose: "You're good on fuel, man, go for the gold!"
Mears promptly returned to the top 10 and continued making progress despite having to negotiate intermittent four-wide racing action. When cars began crashing to the rear of Mears with just 13 laps to go, Barker quickly ordered him to once again save fuel. However, when Carl Edwards lost a tire and collected Ryan Newman in a crash with five to go, Barker delivered better news to Mears, who now resided in the ninth position. "Casey, you are two laps to the good on fuel," Barker happily reported.
The green flag waved for the final time with just two laps remaining, but the subsequent lap featured a multi-car incident as the white flag waved to signal the final lap of the race. Consequently, the race would end under caution, but Mears' earlier patience paid off when, after saving fuel and avoiding several on-track incidents, his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS crossed the finish line in the 14th position. His strong effort accounts for Germain Racing's fourth top 15 finish of the season and also helped Mears climb up the point standings where he is now tied with Tony Stewart for the 21st position, just eight points removed from the top 20.
"We had a really solid weekend and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS was good from the time we unloaded. It's nice that we're starting to achieve some consistency over the race weekends and I think we're learning a lot about the new car as the season moves on," Mears said. "I'm proud of everyone on this Germain Racing team and right now we're really gelling and everyone's on the same page. It's also exciting that we've now finished the first two restrictor-plate races of the season with clean racecars. We're looking forward to getting to Kansas."
The Germain Racing team will now travel to the Sunflower State for a race on Mother's Day weekend.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Kansas Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, May 9th, at 12:00 PM (EDT). Qualifying will follow at 6:40 PM (EDT).
The 5-Hour Energy 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Saturday, May 10th, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 7:30 PM (EDT). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) 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 KMC Wheels, please visit: www.KMCwheels.com
- PMI -
Contact: Doug Barnette, Player Management International