18th place finish at Loudon for heavy hearted Mears and GEICO team
Casey Mears and Germain Racing scored strong finishes at Richmond and Chicago and viewed Loudon, NH, as an opportunity to continue their effort to finish the 2015 season in strong fashion. Just nine races remained when they arrived for practice on Friday.
Aside from the normal racing schedule, Mears would also bear the affect of the loss of his grandmother, Mae Louise Mears, known to most as 'Grandma Skip', who passed away on Wednesday. While she would ride with Mears in his heart at Loudon, her name would also take the place of his own above the window on the racecar.
With Grandma Skip on-board, Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS took to the one-mile oval and sat 21st on the charts when the opening practice session ended on Friday. Qualifying got underway late Friday afternoon and Mears continued to show speed, advancing to the second round before notching a 19th place starting position for Sunday's Sylvania 300. He zipped around the Magic Mile in a brief 27.943-seconds, at a speed of 136.306 miles per hour en route to his top-20 qualifying effort.
Perfect fall weather welcomed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to the racetrack on Sunday. Mears and his GEICO Chevy rolled off of the starting grid from the 19th position when the green flag set the field underway for 300-laps of close quarters racing action. He appeared strong and ran solidly in the top-20 for the front half of the race. His sole setback would come as the event approached the midway point. The caution flag flew on lap 120, whereupon Mears brought his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet to the attention of his pit crew. A broken jack and uncontrolled tire would force the Bakersfield, CA, native to restart at the rear, from the 27th position, when the race returned to green on lap 125.
He soon developed a handling issue after the race entered the back half of the 300 scheduled laps. While the car became tougher to drive, Mears continued to pedal the GEICO Chevy forward, slowly gaining ground and collecting positions. The Germain Racing crew took advantage of each pit stop to make adjustments to the No. 13 Chevy and assist Mears in his ascent up the scoring tower. On lap 205, the mindful veteran made a sharp right hand turn before making a sharp left to narrowly avoid a spinning Danica Patrick, who had just made contact with the No. 55 car of David Ragan. Mears was unscathed and continued to make progress as the race wound down.
When the checkered flag waved after 300-miles of exciting racing action, Mears had hustled his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS to the 18th position and posted his second top-20 finish in the last three races. Today's result is Germain Racing's 13th top-20 finish of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
"It's been a tough week for sure, so it was good to get to the track this weekend and have speed in the GEICO Chevy," Mears said after the race. "It was nice to have my grandma's name on the car and I'm glad we were able to get a strong finish. The guys worked really hard today and we were able to battle back and get another top-20. We are looking forward to Dover next week because we always have a lot of folks from GEICO, as well as service members from Dover Air Force Base."
Germain Racing will now pack up and head to Dover, DE, to do battle with the high-banked Monster Mile.
Latest from Speedway Digest Staff
- Pit Pay announces Pit Pay Pole Challenge
- Entry Deadline For 2020 Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout Is Approaching
- Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Ed Clark wins 2019 O. Bruton Smith Award
- Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Early Entry Deadline Approaching Fast
- South Carolina NASCAR Fan Joe Vaughn, Project HOPE Foundation Win The NASCAR Foundation’s 9th Annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award
More in this category: « Accident Ends Top-15 Run for Patrick Harvick Foiled by Fuel Mileage at Loudon »