After recording a strong run at Dover a week ago, Casey Mears and his GEICO team set their sights on Pocono Raceway, a facility that has long caused them frustration. Given their marked improvement in 2014, the 2.5-mile three-cornered racetrack stood little chance against a hard-charging Germain Racing team.
When qualifying got underway on Friday, Mears hustled his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS around the 'Tricky Triangle' in just 50.549-seconds, at a speed of 178.045 miles per hour, landing him 25th on Sunday's starting grid.
Clear skies and bright sunshine served as the backdrop for Sunday's Pocono 400. Mears rolled off the grid from the 25th position and quickly dropped to 29th. As early as lap two, he reported that his car was sideways, restricting his ability to exit the turns. On lap 17, he indicated that he was "loose everywhere." Mears visited pit road for a scheduled green flag stop on lap 27, where the GEICO crew provided him with four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and a much needed wedge adjustment. The changes favored Mears, as he quickly ascended the scoring tower and cracked the top 20 on lap 57 before ultimately reaching the top 10. He appeared to get faster as the race wore on, recordi ng his fastest lap of the day on lap 107. Mears was quicker than the leader and consistently recording top 10 lap times.
All went well for the bulk of the afternoon for Mears and his GEICO team. Things turned interesting with 17 laps to go when Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards got together, bringing out the event's final caution flag of the day. Mears avoided the crash, but as he went low to miss the spinning cars, he hit a drainage gully that briefly sent his GEICO machine airborne and also caused damage to the radiator ductwork. Airflow to the engine was restricted, causing it to run at an excessive temperature, leaving Mears down on horsepower for the balance of the race. When the yellow flag was displayed, Mears was in the 14th position, but a frustrating call by NASCAR forced him to restart from the 20th position, behind the No. 9 car of Marcos Ambrose. Despite the high engine temperature, Mears continued to hustle his GEICO Chevy through the final 12 laps and score a 23rd place finish. Mears' effort accounts for Germain Racing's 10th top 25 finish of the season.
"It was fun to be able to race well here and gain track position and drive to the front. The No. 13 GEICO Chevy was really strong today and that is a testament to the progress of our program and we're starting to get a handle on some of these tracks that were tough on us before," Mears said. "I'm proud of the guys and how hard we're working. We're having some strong runs this year and we look forward to continuing that in Michigan next week."