Armed with a new aerodynamics package that featured a nine-inch spoiler on the rear of the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS, Germain Racing headed off to a place where the Mears family has experienced considerable success. Casey Mears' father, Roger, and uncle, Rick, have raced at the famed speedway which saw Mears' uncle score four Indianapolis 500 wins. Casey himself has history with the speedway, as he captured the pole at the 2004 Brickyard 400 while breaking the track qualifying record.
Mears has notched four top-16 finishes in the last six races, while also catapulting himself into the top-20 in the point standings. He looked to Indy to continue his run of strong results.
The new aero package was a mystery as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series opened up practice on Friday morning. Three scheduled sessions would allow Germain Racing ample opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new high-drag spoilers.
Crew chief, Bootie Barker, and the team's engineering staff began making gains almost immediately and established consistency throughout the weekend. Mears landed 18th on the speed chart in the first two practices, while finishing up 16th in happy hour. The optimism remained during qualifying on Saturday when the GEICO team continued to impress after Mears navigated the 2.5-mile Brickyard in just 49.270-seconds, at a speed of 182.667-miles per hour. His hustle placed the No. 13 GEICO Chevy 16th on Sunday's starting grid.
Steamy temperatures welcomed drivers to the track on Sunday for the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. Mears and his GEICO Chevy started the 160-lap event from the 16th position and looked strong throughout the afternoon. While he ran solidly in the top-15 for the bulk of the race, Mears also dipped into the top-5 and top-10 on occasion; a vast difference from a year ago when the team scored a 33rd place finish at the Brickyard.
Aside from an in-car temperature that climbed to an uncomfortably warm 142-degrees, Mears' lone setback would come on lap 126 when the No. 95 car of Michael McDowell, which was two laps down, cut across the nose of the No. 13 GEICO machine as they both attempted to avoid the loose car of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. The contact resulted in right-front nose and fender damage to Mears' racecar. At a track where aerodynamics play a significant role, the car would suffer, but it would be minimized, as a persistent Mears aggressively wheeled his Chevy around the 2.5-mile speedway despite the aero challenge.
Following a late-race caution, the event returned to green under the first attempt at a green-white-checkers finish. Mears restarted from 22nd, but managed to collect two spots in the final two laps, crossing the finish line in the 20th position when the checkered flag was displayed late Sunday afternoon. His result accounts for Germain Racing's 10th top-20 finish of the 2015 season and their fifth in the last seven races. While Mears drops a spot in the point standings to 21st, the margin narrows, as he now sits just 11 points out of 18th and 87 points removed from the top-15. "We were solid all weekend and that's good to see considering that we've really struggled at Indy in the past," Mears said after climbing from the GEICO Chevrolet. "What I find most important is that we came here with a new aero package that was a total unknown and Bootie Barker and our engineers got it figured out pretty quick and we had solid practice times and a strong qualifying effort. A year ago at Indy, we qualified 26th and finished 33rd, but this weekend we qualified 16th and finished 20th. That's quite a difference. I am proud of all of the guys on this GEICO team and we will continue working hard to get strong finishes."
The Germain Racing team will pack up the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS and head back to the Pocono Mountains where Mears recorded a 16th place finish at the Tricky Triangle in June.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Pocono Raceway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, July 31st, at 11:00 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 4:45 PM (ET).
Mears and Germain racing continue roll with Top-20 finish at The Brickyard
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