The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' first practice session looked favorably upon Mears, as he immediately went on a torrid run that sent the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS straight to the top of the scoring tower. He landed in the second position, where he spent the balance of the practice. Aside from finishing up second fastest, the sporty veteran also turned in the fastest five-lap average.
Qualifying saw Mears continue to make quick work of the ¾-mile D-shaped oval. He advanced to the second round of qualifying before scoring a 15th place starting position in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400, 10 spots better than their starting position at the spring race in Richmond . Mears navigated the facility in a prompt 21.395-seconds, at a speed of 126.198-miles per hour.
Rain threatened the Richmond area on Saturday evening, but ultimately gave way to a majestic sunset and perfect temperatures. Mears and his GEICO Chevy took the green flag from the 15th position and wasted little time in making progress. He took over the 13th position by lap six and would climb to 11th on lap 49. Mears ran solidly in the top-15 while the team worked hard on pit road.
The Germain Racing over-the-wall crew was efficient during Mears' visits at each caution period, as they turned 11.9 and 12-second pit stops that would often see Mears gaining spots upon his departure from pit road. The Bakersfield, CA, native thanked the crew for their prompt work on pit road over the team's radio frequency multiple times throughout the race.
The midway point of the 400-lap event found Mears battling a handling condition as the team went head-to-head with a 95 lap run that saw the frontend go away and also leave the right front tire with cords showing. The result was a drop in positions that left him as low as 27th before he rallied back and hustled to a 21st place finish when the checkered flag waved late into the Richmond night. Mears' effort accounts for Germain Racing's 17th top-25 finish of the 2015 season and is nine positions better than their finish at Richmond International Raceway in April.
"We started out really strong this weekend and had a fast racecar. It was fun to have some speed in the GEICO Chevy, but the long runs hurt us," Mears said following the race. "We were able to come back and get a solid finish, which is good. The pit crew did a great job tonight and I appreciate their hard work during our pit stops. This is a track that has been challenging for us in the past, so it was nice to have a solid weekend here and know that we have speed."
Next week, Mears and Germain Racing will head to the Windy City.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Chicagoland Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, September 18th, at 12:30 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 6:45 PM (ET).