Bristol Motor Speedway is always known for intense short track racing, but this weekend's race at the World's Fastest Half Mile had another factor to deal with - Mother Nature. Not only did rain delay the green flag on Saturday night, weather postponed the majority of the event until Sunday afternoon. Once the 500-mile race returned to action under blue skies, Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team fought an ill-handling Chevrolet. But despite these conditions, the team showed tremendous perseverance to bring home a 25th-place finish.
"It was a long couple of days with the rain," said Mears after the race. "I'm proud of the GEICO Racing team for sticking with it and working to get the car better over the course of the race though. Unfortunately, we had a tire vibration there, which put us behind for the second half of the race when our car was much better. We just have to keep working and improving each week as a team."
After a heavy rain shower postponed the start of the NRA Bass Pro Shops 500 to 9PM on Saturday evening, Mears strapped into the GEICO machine and rolled off from the 21st starting position. Quickly the veteran driver reported the front end of the No. 13 Chevrolet was hitting the racetrack. Unfortunately, after a short 48-laps, rain returned to the concrete oval and postponed the remaining 452 circuits until Sunday afternoon at 1PM.
With a case of deja vu, rain continued to plague the Tennessee short track and once again postponed the start time on Sunday afternoon. Once the showers passed through the mountains, racing action was able to resume, shortly after 4:45PM. As the competition caution waved on lap 85, Mears radioed the car was "loose in, loose off and tight in the center" while running in the 30th position.
Misfortune struck on lap 216 as Mears was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop for a tire vibration. After providing the GEICO Chevrolet with four fresh tires and fuel under green flag conditions, Mears returned to the track in the 35th position, four laps down. The team continued to fight to improve the handling for Mears and by lap 358, their efforts prevailed as the California native said his car was much better. With 100 laps remaining, Mears returned to the top-25 despite a "sideways loose" handling condition. Mears continued to hold the 25th position, which is where the GEICO Chevrolet crossed the finish line.