Last lap crash spoils Top-10 day for Mears at Talladega

When GEICO's marquis NASCAR event got underway in Alabama over the weekend, Casey Mears and Germain Racing eagerly anticipated the opportunity to return to a track where they've experienced considerable success over the years. Mears is a restrictor plate specialist of sorts and always welcomes the opportunity to visit the superspeedways.


On Friday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took to Talladega Superspeedway for GEICO 500 practice, where Mears sped to the top of the speed charts and ended up ninth fastest in the final session. Qualifying saw him pedal the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS around the 2.66-mile high-banked oval in just 49.245-seconds, at a speed of 194.456-miles per hour, landing him 11th on Sunday's starting grid.


It was a chamber of commerce kind of day when Mears took to the starting grid for Sunday's GEICO 500. A full house was on-hand to watch 43 drivers do battle in close quarters. Rolling off from the 11th position, Mears immediately moved the No. 13 GEICO Chevy into the top-10 on the opening lap. He was riding solidly in the top-15 before deciding to drop back to 28th after finding the cars around him acting squirrely. His intuition paid off because just a few laps later, on lap 47, Trevor Bayne spun and caused a 15-car crash that ultimately resulted in the waving of the red flag. Had Mears remained in the lead pack, he would have surely been collected.


Aside from elevated engine temperatures, Mears' day went smoothly and he moved the GEICO Chevy to the front of the field at-will throughout the 188-lap event. As the race entered the final laps, Mears was running in the 11th position while the field remained, uncharacteristically, in single-file formation. With just two laps remaining, he moved into ninth and took the white flag looking to track down the top-5. As the field made it's way around the track for the final time, cars broke out of line and Mears received a strong push from Clint Bowyer that sent him hard into the rear of Carl Edwards' No. 19 Toyota, but both cars quickly recovered. Shortly after, Bowyer was to the inside of the GEICO Chevy and made a sudden move up high that sent Mears hard into the outside wall and resulted in a three car crash that ended a top-10 run for Germain Racing. Mears managed to somehow deliver the GEICO machine to the finish line to collect a lead lap, 28th place finish.  


"The GEICO Chevy was strong today, but the engine kept running hot, so I had to drop out of line and run on my own at times to try to get the temperatures down," Mears said. "We had something for them there at the end, but unfortunately got caught up on the final lap. It was almost as if Clint thought he was clear and made the move high. My nose was at about his door and there was no room, so neither one of us could escape it once contact was made. It wasn't the finish we wanted, but we were strong all day and we've also been fortunate to finish most of the restrictor-plate races well over the years, so it's hard to get too upset when this happens. We've been lucky to come home clean from these things most of the time." He continued, "It was a lot of fun to take part in GEICO's big weekend. I don't know any other sponsor that supports NASCAR as well as GEICO does and it makes me proud to be associated with a company that genuinely cares about the health of the sport. They do a good job of activating around the races and the team and this weekend was just another example of how well they do at reaching our fans. I can't thank them enough for all that they do for us."


Mears and Germain Racing will next travel to the Sunflower State where they will boast special livery from the new SpongeBob SquarePants movie.


Casey Mears and the No. 13 Squidward Tentacles SS will hit the track at Kansas Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, May 8th, at noon (ET). Qualifying will follow at 6:45 PM (ET).


The SpongeBob SquarePants NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Saturday, May 9th, and it will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 7:30 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.


Speedway Digest Staff

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