Mears escapes wet Dover weekend with 24th place finish
Coming off of two top-20 finishes in the previous three races, Casey Mears and the GEICO team were looking to get the best of the Monster Mile when they arrived in Dover. They aimed to improve upon the 27th place finish they recorded at the high-banked oval in May. First, however, they would go head-to-head with Mother Nature and she would win the battle, but not the war.
All track activities, including qualifying, were canceled on Friday due to heavy rain in the Dover area, which would leave the starting field to be set according to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rulebook. Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS would start 22nd. On Saturday, the series was able to sneak in two practices between raindrops and Mears was 24th and 18th in the respective sessions.
While gray skies loomed and winds exceeding 20 miles per hour blew across the racetrack on Sunday, any rain that previously threatened the area would subside and allow a full day of racing.
The green flag flew at its scheduled time and Mears and his Sprint Cup Series counterparts would do battle for 400-laps/400-miles. Mears and the GEICO Chevy started from the 22nd position and by lap six were up to 21st. Unfortunately, lap 31 heard him report to crew chief, Bootie Barker: "The frontend is terrible in the center. It's loose in, loose off." Aside from a handling condition, Mears also had to deal with a significant amount of trash and debris that populated the racetrack due to the omnipresent wind. Multiple times, he watched his engine temperatures climb, as trash would cling to the front of his No. 13 Chevy. In each instance, Mears found a way to rid himself of the problem, saving what could have been an unscheduled trip to pit road under green.
If the weekend was not already odd enough, the lap 192 caution was extended due to a baby duck that had wandered onto the racing surface while the yellow flag flew. NASCAR carefully and safely removed the duck from the track and racing continued on lap 204.
Mears continued to hustle throughout the back half of the 400-lap race, while Barker and the Germain Racing crew made necessary changes to the No. 13 GEICO Chevy. Despite getting behind early, the team managed to rally back and when the checkered flag was displayed, Mears crossed the finish line in the 24th position and netted his 20th top-25 finish of the 2015 season.
"It was a tough weekend for sure because we didn't get a lot of practice in, so it left a lot of unknowns when the race started on Sunday," Mears said. "The guys worked hard on the GEICO Chevrolet throughout the race and we were able to sneak out of there with a top-25 finish. Everyone is looking forward to being at home in Charlotte this week. It allows everyone to recharge a little bit and catch their breath as the season winds down."
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