As the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season continues to wind down, Casey Mears and Germain Racing entered Phoenix looking for a solid run to hang their hat on. They had an exciting week, announcing a three-year contract extension with primary sponsor, GEICO, and their arrival at the racetrack was met with the expected buzz.
Skies were clear and temperatures were warm when Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet SS took to Phoenix International Raceway for practice and qualifying on Friday. Mears finished up a solid 24th in the weekend's opening practice session before moving into qualifying, where he would advance to the second round and score a 24th place starting position.
While navigating a fast one-mile racetrack in tight quarters is challenge enough, the Sprint Cup Series would first go head-to-head with Mother Nature on Sunday. While initially losing the battle again intermittent rain showers that would blanket the facility for most of the day, dry weather and the NASCAR's track dryers would ultimately prevail. Nearly seven-hours after the scheduled start time, Mears climbed into his No. 13 GEICO Military Chevy and got to work.
When the green flag cut the field loose for 312-laps of racing, the grandstands remained full of dedicated race fans that withstood the uncharacteristically poor Phoenix weather. Mears rolled off from the 24th position and found himself battling a loose condition on lap 13. It served as little consequence, however, as he would pedal the GEICO Military Chevy up to 12th place by lap 49.
Mears' evening was going well, but he would experience a minor setback on lap 192, when he made a scheduled green flag pit stop. The Germain Racing crew turned in a quick stop, but the yellow flag would wave as the No. 13 GEICO Military Chevy was departing pit road, causing Mears to lose a lap. He took the wavearound, recovered the lap, and was scored in the 22nd position. Mears was seemingly unconcerned, as 120 laps remained in the race, allowing him plenty of time to reclaim lost ground. Unfortunately, the rain returned and the field found itself being ordered down pit road just 27 laps later, on lap 219, as the red flag was displayed. With rain continuing to fall on the Avondale, AZ, area, NASCAR called the race complete 93 laps shy of the scheduled distance and Mears would get the short end of the stick and be credited with a 22nd place finish.
"It was such a long day of sitting in the cold and rain and we're appreciative of all the fans that hung around to watch us race," Mears said. "We were proud to run the GEICO Military paint scheme again this weekend to celebrate Veterans Day and we were going to get a good finish, but the rain got the best of us, as it had most of the day. We'll take 22nd and look to finish strong at Homestead next week. We've had a really good year, so we are hoping to end the season on a solid note."
The season finale awaits Mears and the Germain Racing team in south Florida.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, November 20th, at noon (ET). Qualifying will follow at 6:15 PM (ET) and will air live on NBC Sports.
The Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, November 22nd, and it will be televised live on NBC beginning at 3 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.