Fort Worth, TX (November 7, 2010) – As the 2010 season begins to wind down, GEICO driver Casey Mears’ comfort seems to increase. Since he climbed into the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry in August, he has helped Germain Racing make marked improvement and has consistently performed in the Top 25 each week, as well as improving the team’s qualifying efforts.
Mears’ practice effort in Texas left cause for excitement in the GEICO garage stall. Although Mears would ultimately end up 36th on the speed chart at the end of practice, he initially shot straight to 5th and then sat as high as 2nd during the 90-minute session.
When qualifying got underway, Mears took to the track 48th out of the 49 cars entered. He made quick work of the 1.5-mile quad-oval and put the #13 GEICO Camry in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field. Pacing the track in just 28.463 seconds at a rate of speed of 189.720 miles per hour, Mears would start 35th when the cars rolled off the starting grid on Sunday afternoon.
When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field took the green flag under bright, sunny skies on Sunday, Mears would roll off of the starting grid in the 35th position. Although he picked up three positions by the second lap, the day’s problems set in immediately. Mears quickly radioed to crew chief Bootie Barker on Lap 6: “This thing is plowin’.”
Fortunately for Mears, but not so good for Joe Nemecheck, the event’s first caution flag of the day was displayed when Nemechek’s motor went up in smoke on the frontstretch on Lap 12. This afforded the GEICO team the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to the #13 GEICO Camry.
After restarting 33rd on Lap 17, Mears and the #13 GEICO Camry began to move forward and by Lap 29 they were in the 30th position. Unfortunately, just five laps later, an agitated Mears reported to Bootie Barker: “It won’t turn. I can’t make anything happen here. The back is getting worse.”
The event’s second caution flag of the day waved on Lap 42, once again allowing Mears to bring his #13 GEICO Camry to the attention of the Germain Racing pit crew. Once on pit road, Mears received four tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted 32nd on Lap 47, but just 11 laps later, running in the 31st position, Mears’ frustration grew as he told Barker: “It’s so tight it won’t turn.”
Mears, who usually talks little on the radio and generally appears calm, was growing more frustrated as the race wore on. He was quite verbal throughout the afternoon and despite his concern over the racecar, he remained focused and maintained his position inside of the Top 30.
Despite the best efforts of the team, Mears would continue to battle an ill-handling racecar for the balance of the race. A bright spot was the GEICO pit crew who served Mears masterfully, getting him on and off of pit road quickly. A grateful Mears acknowledged the pit crew’s efforts on Lap 132: “You guys did a good job on pit road not getting us behind on the green flag stops.”
Mears was then credited for leading a lap after he was at the front of the field on Lap 134.
When the caution flag was displayed on Lap 191, no one could have predicted the drama that would unfold during a single caution period. Martin Truex, Jr., brought out the caution with a spin, but coming out of Turn 2 Jeff Burton planted Jeff Gordon into the wall, drawing a fiery response from Gordon. As the drivers were making their way to the ambulance, a melee ensued, as Gordon met Burton with punches before NASCAR officials intervened. Just minutes later, the crew chief of Jimmie Johnson’s car benched his pit crew and ordered the pit crew of Jeff Gordon’s car to the #48 car’s pit box to tend to Johnson’s pit stops.
Although the Lap 191 caution lasted just five laps, it felt more like an hour given the series of events. Mears restarted 30th on Lap 196 and exhibited marked progress, jumping the #13 GEICO Camry to 27th on Lap 202. He continued moving forward and reached 20th by Lap 245 before scheduled green flag pit stops began sending the field down pit road for service.
On Lap 327, Mears narrowly missed being a part of the event’s last caution of the day. Patrick Carpentier spun and Mears was hard on the brakes to avoid becoming collateral damage. Mears brought the GEICO Camry down pit road and took on four fresh tires to prepare for the final restart of the day.
Mears restarted 29th with just three laps remaining. He took the white flag in 28th and by the time the checkered flag was in the air, Mears had somehow managed to hustle to a 26th place finish. Despite the setbacks with the racecar, Mears salvaged an otherwise bad day at the track and transformed it into a resounding success, given the circumstances.
When he climbed from the #13 GEICO Camry following the race, Mears was succinct and direct.
“It was a bad day that we turned into a good day,” Mears said. “The GEICO pit crew did a good job on pit road and that really helped us a lot. It’s racing and we’re going to have days like today, but it’s good that we’re resilient enough to keep fighting and not quit. It came down to the final lap, but we ended on a good note and that’s what matters.”
Texas concludes GEICO’s 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. If the last lap of the Texas race is any indication, the future looks bright for Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team. GEICO will be announcing their 2011 Sprint Cup Series schedule within the next few weeks.
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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Contact: Doug Barnette, Player Management International
Contact: Doug Barnette, Player Management International