Casey Mears is one of the most talented restrictor-plate racers in the sport of NASCAR, as evidenced by his prior results at both Daytona and Talladega. As the GEICO driver entered Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the season's fourth and final plate race, his strategy was to get to the front and have an opportunity to race for the win in the closing laps. All was well until lap 115 saw Mears fall victim to crashing racecars, which ultimately landed him in the garage after an early exit from the 188-lap event.
When the weekend's opening practice got underway on Friday, Mears settled in quickly, placing his GEICO Chevy 12th on the scoring tower by the close of the session. A fully confident Germain Racing chose to pass on their participation in final practice and instead set their sights on qualifying, along with Sunday's race.
On Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field was greeted by blue skies, bright sunshine and grandstands packed with fans. Mears started the Hellmann's 500 from the 28th position, but immediately began making his way through the field. He promptly navigated the No. 13 GEICO Chevy into the top-10 and set his sights on the leader. Mears kept his GEICO machine out of trouble and exercised patience as the race passed the halfway point. He remained in contention and his spotter, Ron Lewis, offered frequent updates as the laps wound down.
Unfortunately, on lap 115, Greg Biffle tangled with the No. 83 car of Jeffery Earnhardt, sending him hard into Mears' GEICO Chevy before causing all three cars to make heavy contact with the inside wall. Mears absorbed the brunt of the crash, but other than a foot that got caught under the clutch and a broken heart, he walked away unscathed. Mears ended up as collateral damage and would be relegated to an undeserved 39th place finish.
"Talladega can either make you very happy or very mad and today we came out on the backside of that," Mears said. "The GEICO Chevy was fast and I was able to drive to the front, so I really felt like as long as we stayed clean that we would have a chance to win this thing. We've been in that position before both here and at Daytona and felt like we would've had the same opportunity today. I was just riding along and the next thing I knew, I was hitting the inside wall and being sent to the garage. I feel bad for everyone on this Germain team because we work so hard on our plate program and this was not the outcome we expected."
Short-track racing is next up on the menu for Germain Racing. Beating and banging will be plentiful when the No. 13 team makes its way to the ½-mile paperclip-shaped oval in Martinsville, VA, next weekend.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Martinsville Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, October 28th, at 11:00 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 4:40 PM (ET).