MEARS' QUICK RECOVERY RESULTS IN 13TH PLACE FINISH IN SONOMA
Player Management International Media Release
Sonoma, CA (June 22, 2014) - Excellent weather and intense racing were the flavors of the day at Sonoma Raceway for Sunday's 110-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Driver Casey Mears, a native of Bakersfield, CA, raced in the top-10, earned the Sherwin-Williams Fast Lap of the Race award, survived calamity and managed a 13th-place finish with a wrinkled, bumped and battered No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS.
The weekend opened with two practice sessions on Friday. Mears and the GEICO crew worked on the car, anticipating a slightly tight condition come race day. Mears ended up 26th in first practice, but, in the afternoon heat, posted the 12th fastest time in final practice, improving 14-positions from the earlier session. Qualifying followed suit, as Mears benefitted from the changes made in practice to advance to the final round of qualifying, where he went on to secure a 12th place starting position for Sunday's race.
Saturday evening found Mears and his Germain Racing counterparts at the home of their associate sponsor Caymus Vineyards, where they took in the sights, sounds and tastes of wine country. Hosted by Caymus owner/winemaker Chuck Wagner, team owner Bob Germain was flanked by his racing team, along with family and friends, when they had dinner in Caymus' barrel room. Wagner also took the group on a personally guided tour of the vineyard and familiarized them with the wine making process. Wagner, along with members of the Caymus family, joined guests from GEICO and KMC Wheels to cheer on Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevy when race day arrived.
When the green flag got things underway on Sunday, the race set off on a blistering pace, with 31 laps of racing that saw many cars making green flag pit stops before the day's first caution flag flew at lap 32. Mears had stopped on lap 26 for four tires and fuel and the Germain Racing pit crew set the tone for the fast stops that would follow throughout the day. Mears had raced is way into the top 10, as high as seventh, and his only note to crew chief Bootie Barker was that the GEICO Chevy turned right a bit better than it turned left.
In the tenth position for the lap 35 restart, Mears received a shove from Clint Bowyer that forced him into fellow Chevy driver Kasey Kahne, causing significant frontend damage that left a hole on the front of the GEICO car where the Chevrolet logo would normally be located. The damage required crew chief Bootie Barker to call Mears to the pits under green flag conditions for repairs and fresh left-side tires - a move that put the team slightly off-sequence with the original three-stop plan for the day. The GEICO crew made quick work of the No. 13 Chevrolet and returned Mears to the racing surface without losing a lap to the field.
"How's the car after all of the body damage? Is it handling the same?" asked Barker. Mears responded that the car was handling fine, so Barker and the crew scrapped a plan to fix the hole on the front of the car and instead refocused their attention on getting Mears out of the 37th position and back into the top ten.
Mears continued to aggressively hustle the GEICO Chevy around the 1.99-mile road course, gaining positions in bulk until he was back in the top ten with 20-laps left in the advertised distance of the race. Even the television announcers noted several times the torrid pace with which Mears toured the scenic racecourse. He was running in the ninth position with just 13 laps to go when contact with Kurt Busch knocked out the toe on his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS, causing him to lose ground to fast-closing racecars. The issue did little to thwart his daylong effort, as Mears crossed the finish line in the 13th position and notched the team's fifth top-15 finish of the 2014 season.
"We had a pretty good day. The GEICO Chevy started out real strong. We got bottled up a bit on the restart following the first caution. It was an eventful day and after everything that happened, we ended up with a pretty good result," Mears said. "With about 13 laps to go, I was passing Kurt Busch and he kind of pinched me into the tires. It knocked the toe out on the GEICO Chevy - it was a handful through the end of the race. We finished 13th, so it turned out pretty good. The GEICO pit crew had some outstanding stops today. I know we are all looking forward to Kentucky Speedway next weekend."
Mears and the GEICO team will now do some Saturday night racing under the lights. The next stop on the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is in Sparta, KY.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Kentucky Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, June 27th, at 10:30 AM (EDT). Qualifying will follow at 5:40 PM (EDT). All activities will air live on Fox Sports 1.
The Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Saturday, June28th, and it will be televised live on TNT beginning at 7:30 PM (EDT). 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 KMC Wheels, please visit: www.KMCwheels.com
- PMI -