After a challenging weekend at Charlotte, Germain Racing was determined to have a solid run at Kansas Speedway and get back on-track for a strong finish to the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The Hollywood Casino 400 was the perfect opportunity for Casey Mears and company, as they departed the 1.5-mile facility with a favorable result earlier in the year. After struggling during qualifying and ending up 29th, the team made positive strides in the weekend's final two practice sessions.
While Mears would find himself at odds with a poor handling car when Sunday's race got underway, he and the crew communicated clearly to determine needed adjustments for the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS. The changes were impactful, as Mears was able to make a considerably stronger run after the first pit stop on lap 27. From there, the Bakersfield, CA, native was able to more easily maneuver through the field, even briefly leading the race before making a scheduled green flag pit stop after 95 of the event's 267-laps.
The race's eight cautions played in Germain Racing's favor, with the fifth being the most critical. Mears was awarded the free pass, which allowed the GEICO Chevy to return to the lead lap after having been two laps down. The persistent team found themselves in the 21st position when the race returned to green. Mears continued to make progress after the caution, returning to the top-20 on lap 213.
Unfortunately, on lap 214, the GEICO Chevy lightly scraped the outside wall. While Mears was able to spare the car of any significant damage, it impacted the handling for the rest of the race. Despite battling handling issues, a resilient Mears was able to hustle to a 23rd place, lead lap finish when the checkered flag closed out 400-miles of racing at Kansas Speedway.
"It's been a rough year for us, but today was all right. The GEICO Chevy was good at times and we were able to finish on the lead lap and get a decent result," Mears said. "Nothing was stellar, but at least nothing went wrong, so that was good. We're looking to forward to getting to Talladega this week. We've always had a solid restrictor-plate program and we go to these tracks looking to win. We will be strong this weekend and we hope to put the GEICO Chevy in victory lane."
Germain Racing now eyes the fourth and final restrictor-plate race of the year, as they return to the high-banked, 2.66-mile superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama.