Casey Mears and Germain Racing arrived at Chicagoland Speedway looking to continue their string of solid runs as the season begins to wind down. Weather would first wreak havoc with their plan when rain forced the cancelation of qualifying on Friday afternoon. With the field being set according to Owner Points, Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS would be forced to start Sunday's race from the 29th position.
When the rain cleared, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was permitted three practice sessions where Mears and company demonstrated incremental improvement and finished up the day 20th on the board in final practice on Saturday. Their focus quickly shifted to the 400-mile event slated for Sunday.
When race day arrived, bright sunshine and a large crowd welcomed the drivers to the starting grid. Staring 29th, Mears and his GEICO Chevy made quick progress when the green flag turned the field loose for 267-laps of racing. He promptly gathered up eight positions in just the opening four laps, putting Mears in 21st place and knocking on the door of the top-20. Unfortunately, the racecar would betray him just a few laps later, as it started plowing and leaving the GEICO driver feeling as if he was on ice. He would be forced to deal with this situation for the bulk of the afternoon.
As Mears became increasingly frustrated with the car during his team radio transmissions, things were further complicated when he was assessed a questionable speeding penalty during his scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 103. Mears would be just one of a handful of drivers left scratching their heads by speeding penalties, including his good friend, Jimmie Johnson. This setback proved challenging and the GEICO team spent the balance of the day attempting to regain lost ground while also dealing with an irritable racecar.
When the checkered flag brought a full day of racing to a halt, Mears and the Germain Racing team were relegated to a 34th place finish.
"That was painful, a long day, to say the least," Mears said. "We couldn't get the GEICO Chevy to do what we needed it to do and the speeding penalty only complicated our efforts. We're looking forward to Monday and getting focused on Loudon."
Few things are more beautiful than fall in New England and the Germain Racing team will now travel to the area to do battle with only nine races remaining in the 2016 season.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, September 23rd, at 11:30 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 4:45 PM (ET).
The New England 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, September 25th, and it will be televised live on NBC Sports beginning at 2:00 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.