The Germain Racing team spent the off-season focused on preparing for the Daytona 500. If there was any doubt if their time spent away from family and friends was invested wisely, the last few days should have answered that question. The GEICO team and driver Casey Mears arrived at Daytona International Speedway poised for success, and the work committed over the winter months quickly manifested itself when practice got underway.
Mears was 17th on the speed charts in both sessions on Saturday, February 16th, before he picked up speed in Sunday’s time trials where he navigated the 2.5-mile superspeedway in just 46.037 seconds, at a rate of speed of 195.495 miles per hour. His effort landed him on the outside of row four, in the eighth position, for the Budweiser Duel 150’s. Mears and his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion would take part in Duel 1.
Before the Duels got underway on Thursday, the Germain Racing team would receive a bit of good news when GEICO announced they would sponsor the team for the full season in both 2013 and 2014. Reeling from an adrenaline bump, the GEICO team hurriedly made their way to the starting grid where their driver was soon to do battle to determine if the GEICO Fusion would secure a spot in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
When the green flag turned the field loose for a short 60-laps of racing action, Mears quickly made his way to the front and sat in the third position by the second lap. He moved the #13 GEICO Fusion into second on lap five and did not depart the position until 34 laps later. Mears would require only a single fuel stop to complete the event. After surrendering third place to visit pit road on lap 41, the Germain Racing pit crew quickly returned the GEICO Fusion to the racing surface one spot to the good, in the second position.
With just eight laps to go, Mears was riding in fifth when his rear view mirror filled with the image of Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards in an incident that resulted in a hard crash for the latter. Mears and his GEICO Fusion would restart in the 7th position with just four laps remaining in the race. When the checkered flag halted the field, Mears had hustled to an eighth place finish in his first event of the 2013 season. When the final Daytona 500 starting grid was set after Duel 2, Mears was slated to roll off from the 17th position come Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been a real consistent week for our team and we’re going to have a fast car for the Daytona 500 on Sunday,” Mears said. “We started our day off with great news from the folks at GEICO that they’re on-board fulltime for 2013 and 2014, and there’s not much of a better way to start off a season. I’m so appreciative of their commitment and the commitment of our team owner, Bob Germain, and it makes me proud to be associated with these guys. I’m really happy for all of the guys on this GEICO team who have worked so hard in the off-season; it’s great to see them rewarded for their efforts. Sunday will be fun.”