Kansas City, KS (October 3, 2010) – This weekend, Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team headed to the heart of America where cooler temperatures awaited them. They were looking to improve upon their 29th place finish in Dover last week.
Things got off to a quick start when Mears was the second fastest ‘go or go home’ car at the conclusion of the opening practice session on Friday. However, qualifying dealt them a bit of a wildcard when Mears qualified the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry 37th for Sunday’s Price Chopper 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The team felt as though they may have over adjusted the car prior to qualifying, causing them to be relegated to the 19th row on the starting grid.
When race day arrived, it was met with cold temperatures and bright sunshine. As the green flag approached, the day would warm and a light breeze would overtake the speedway. Due to a transmission change in the #13 GEICO Camry, Mears would be forced to start at the rear of the field.
A seemingly undaunted Mears would quickly pick up positions once the race got underway, moving up to 37th by the second lap. The GEICO Camry picked up another three spots and sat in the 34th position on Lap 6. Mears immediately began battling a tight condition and found the car hard to handle in and out of the turns. He radioed to crew chief Bootie Barker, “The car is really tight.” Barker assured Mears that they would make the necessary adjustments when the race went under caution.
Lap 41 found Juan Pablo Montoya scraping the wall in Turn 3, bringing out the event’s first caution flag of the day. Mears traveled down pit road on Lap 43 looking for relief from the Germain Racing pit crew. The GEICO pit crew replenished the #13 GEICO Camry with four fresh Goodyear Racing tires, a tank of Sunoco racing fuel, and also made significant adjustments to the racecar. Upon his return to the racing surface, Mears informed Barker that he felt a vibration.
After restarting 34th on Lap 47, Mears noted the front end of the GEICO Camry, indicating that he was lacking grip on the racetrack. Just a few laps later, on Lap 52, Kyle Busch assisted David Reutimann coming out of Turn 2, sending Reutimann into a spin. Mears said to Barker, “The car won’t turn. The front end doesn’t grip and work.” Mears brought the #13 GEICO Camry down pit road for service on Lap 53, where he received four tires, fuel and more adjustments. Mears came down pit road in the 33rd position, but restarted the race on Lap 56 in 31st due to a timely stop by the Germain Racing pit crew.
Mears dropped to 33rd on Lap 58 before making a brave move on the front stretch, going three wide in order to pick up two positions and move into 31st.
The GEICO team would make their first scheduled green flag pit stop of the day on Lap 96. Mears took on four new tires and fuel and, after coming down pit road in the 30th position, he would return to the racing surface 37th. Mears made quick work of the cars in front of him, jumping up to 33rd in just two laps.
Mears broke into the Top 30 and sat 27th on Lap 141 before another scheduled green flag pit stop sent him down pit road for service. He would emerge 34th and would take over the 28th position on Lap 154. Lap 154 also found Reutimann and Busch once again making contact in Turn 2, sending the field under caution.
Mears narrowly avoided peril on Lap 168 when Elliott Sadler was headed down pit road, but quickly changed his mind and turned up in front of the #13 GEICO Camry.
Mears cracked the Top 25 on Lap 190. Barker told Mears: “As it gets cooler, you’re getting faster. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’.” And he did. Mears captured the 23rd position on Lap 198 before the GEICO team made their final stop of the day under green on Lap 220. After the Germain Racing pit crew turned out another quick stop, Mears rejoined the field running in the 33rd position. Two laps later, the #13 GEICO Camry was 30th.
On Lap 226, Mears let Barker know that “all of a sudden the car got really loose.” Loose must have been good because the GEICO Camry began picking off one spot after the other, rejoining the Top 25 on Lap 239.
When the checkered flag was displayed after 400 miles of racing, Mears and the #13 GEICO Camry recorded a 24th place finish.
“It was a challenging day today, but the guys on this GEICO team worked really hard to get the car right,” Mears said. “I was pleased with the pit crew today and we did a good job of getting on and off of pit road. While we would liked to have finished better, we’ll take 24th and head to Fontana looking to continue to build this GEICO Racing program.”
Next week, Casey Mears and the GEICO team head west to Southern California for the Pepsi Max 400.
Mears and the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry will hit the 2-mile D-shaped oval in Fontana for the opening practice session at 3:00 PM (EDT) on Friday, October 8th. Qualifying will follow at 6:40 PM (EDT).
The Pepsi Max 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, October 10th, and it will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 3:00 PM (EDT), while the Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast.
To learn more about the GEICO Racing program, please visit: www.geicogarage.com
You can also follow GEICO Racing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/geicoracing
Please visit the Casey Mears Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/caseymearsracing
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