Early damage results in long day for Mears in Richmond

When they arrived in Virginia, Germain Racing and Casey Mears were coming off of a tough race in Bristol where a fuel pump issue ended their day, and a top-20 run, with just 18 laps remaining in the race. They looked to Richmond for redemption, but would once again find themselves facing issues that were beyond their control. Mears would end up as collateral damage early in the event.

Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS were 17th in the weekend's opening practice session and would go on to qualify 25th Friday evening. While the ¾-mile oval racetrack was scheduled to be filled with 400-laps of racing action, Mother Nature had other plans when she blanketed the Richmond area with heavy rain, forcing the postponement of Saturday night's race to Sunday at 1:00 P M (ET). When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field arrived on the starting grid on Sunday afternoon, the skies were clear, the track was dry and the grandstands were filled with race fans.

Mears rolled off 25th after the green flag set the field underway. He quickly moved forward and was busy collecting positions when, on lap five, Danica Patrick made a left-hand turn into his GEICO Chevy, resulting in heavy contact and significant damage to his right front fender. Despite the damage, Mears managed to hustle into the top-20, but the car immediately tightened up after the incident, leaving him to battle an ill-handling racecar for the balance of the afternoon. The pit crew took advantage of each pit stop to ma ke adjustments to the No. 13 machine, but to no avail. When the checkered flag closed out a long day of racing, Mears was credited with a 30th place finish.

"We had a really fast car and picked up spots pretty quick, but the damage hurt us and the car tightened up a lot," Mears said. "The guys on this GEICO team worked hard to make changes, but we just couldn't get it right, back to where it was. We're going to take the car back to the shop and go through it and figure out exactly what was wrong with it. It definitely drove like something was broke." He continued, "Right now, we're focused on Talladega next weekend and the GEICO 500. Aside from being our primary sponsor, GEICO does a nice job of supporting our sport as a whole and I'm proud to be able to drive their car and represent such a great company. We're looking forward to an exciting weekend of hanging out with the Gecko."

The Germain Racing team will now pack up Mears and his GEICO Chevrolet and head to Talladega, AL, for the Gecko's main event, the GEICO 500.

Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Talladega Superspeedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, May 1st, at 2:00 PM (ET), while final practice will follow at 4:30 PM (ET). Qualifying will take place on Saturday, May 2nd at 1:00 PM (ET).

The GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, May 3rd, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:00 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Speedway Digest Staff

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