It seems as though Casey Mears and his GEICO team just departed Homestead, but in reality it has been nearly two months and much has changed in the world of Germain Racing. The winter saw the team make a manufacturer change to Chevrolet, which found crew members working through the holidays to prepare racecars, update equipment and rebrand their team. In addition, crew chief Bootie Barker and his engineering staff had to accelerate the learning process with Richard Childress Racing, who will be providing the team with engineering and technical support in the upcoming season.
This week saw their hard work come to fruition when the team rolled into Daytona International Speedway for the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test of the 2014 season. Mother Nature caused a washout at the speedway after a full day of rain on Thursday, but that didn’t stop Mears from interacting with fans and doing a series of media interviews at FanFest in the Sprint Fanzone later that evening.
The teams on-hand were hopeful when they arrived at the track on Friday morning, but weather again set them back. Several times, the rain would stop only to start again after track-drying efforts were underway. The skies would ultimately clear around lunchtime and by 1 PM (ET), Casey Mears and his #13 GEICO Chevrolet SS were recording their first laps of the new season. Doing only single-car runs, Barker and the Germain crew focused on learning more about their new Chevrolet. Sitting 19th about halfway through the session, Mears began to pick up speed as his team made favorable changes that sent him inching up the scoring tower.
When the test came to a close on Friday evening, Mears and his GEICO Chevrolet had found their way to the top of the speed chart and sat sixth overall after wheeling around the 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway in just 46.547-seconds (193.353 miles per hour). With two of the top five cars (Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson) recording their speeds in the draft, it leaves Mears fourth fastest in single-car runs, a stat that sent the Germain Racing team home with smiles abound as they eye the upcoming Daytona 500.
Germain’s new alliance with Richard Childress Racing and switch to Chevrolet is a familiar feel for Mears, who piloted the #07 Chevrolet for legendary team-owner Richard Childress during the 2009 season.
“It was nice to finally get on the track and turn some laps. The test went really well and our #13 GEICO Chevrolet SS felt great,” Mears said. “All of the guys on our Germain Racing team did a great job in the off-season getting prepared to start 2014. It was nice to see some familiar faces at RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and that relationship seems to be working out well. I can’t wait to get back to Daytona for Speedweeks.”
The 2014 Daytona 500 is on Sunday, February 23rd, at 1 PM (ET), but first Germain Racing will continue their testing efforts at the 1.33-mile concrete oval of Nashville Superspeedway at the end of January.