THE MONSTER KNOCKS MEARS DOWN BUT NOT OUT
Player Management International Media Release
Dover, DE (October 2, 2011)
– As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season begins to wind down, Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team have remained focused on finishing 2011 in strong fashion. Awaiting them this weekend was Dover International Speedway.
Mears and the #13 GEICO Camry quickly took to the high-banked racetrack for practice on Friday and ended up 40th in the opening practice session. They would later find themselves sandwiched between Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart when Mears landed 40th on the speed chart at the close of final practice. Saturday’s qualifying session saw Mears wheel around the Monster Mile in just 23.158 seconds, placing him 39th on Sunday’s starting grid.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has often played the foe of Mother Nature this season and Dover would be no different. When the drivers took to pit road for pre-race ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, they were met with gray skies, cold temperatures and a light mist. The sun would flirt briefly with the Dover area, but quickly slid behind the cloud cover that would hover for the balance of the day.
When the green flag turned the field loose for 400-miles of racing, Mears and the #13 GEICO Camry began their task from the 39th position. Patience not being a virtue of Mears, he quickly picked up three positions before the field completed a single lap. He then continued maneuvering the #13 GEICO Camry through the field and quickly took over the 33rd position on lap nine. A lap later, he captured the 30th position and seemed poised to move to the front of the field.
When lap 23 was in the books, Mears and the Gecko had cracked the Top 25 and rode solidly in the 24th position. Mears said to Barker: “The car feels good. We could run in the Top 15 or 20 if someone could pick us up and put us there.”
While things appeared to be going smoothly early on, matters took a quick turn for the worse on lap 137 when the caution flag was displayed for a slowing Mears. Mears radioed to crew chief Bootie Barker that the GEICO Camry had lost fuel pressure, but no sooner than he filed the report the pressure returned. Barker instructed Mears to remain on the racetrack and not visit pit road. Mears requested that his spotter notify the cars around him that he had a fuel pressure issue in order to avoid any unnecessary contact during the restart.
Mears restarted 31st on lap 143, but just two laps into the run he reported to Barker: “It feels like it’s dying again.” Barker quickly ordered the #13 GEICO Camry to the garage to complete the necessary repairs. The Germain Racing crew quickly replaced the fuel pump only to discover that the new fuel pump also provided little pressure. They soon discovered the actual culprit, which was the fuel pump cable. After replacing the cable in expedient fashion, Mears returned to the race 32 laps down in the 36th position.
Seemingly indifferent to his circumstances, Mears picked up where he left off and began turning lap times comparable with those in the Top 10. Although they were suffering a 32-lap deficit, the GEICO team remained focused on completing a solid race despite their misfortune. Mears paced the one-mile oval as if he were running in the Top 10, while the GEICO pit crew continued to turn out quick pit stops.
While Mears and the GEICO team were relegated to a 35th place finish, their day proved to be productive and also helped them to maintain their 32nd place status in the Owner Point Standings.
“This was a tough one because the GEICO Camry felt good and we thought for sure we would at least get a Top 20 today,” Mears said while standing outside the GEICO hauler. “I think the take-away is how well we performed under pressure and getting the car diagnosed and fixed quickly. Then, once we were back in the race, we kept digging and working hard. On days like this, it is important to stay focused and make sure you end it on a positive note and we were able to accomplish that.”
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