After Casey Mears fell victim to a crash at Talladega Superspeedway a week ago, the Germain Racing team was optimistic heading to Martinsville Speedway. Statistically, over the last few seasons, the shortest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule has been one of Mears and Germain Racing's best tracks; and the team looked to capitalize on their past success at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped track. After knocking on the door of the top-10, Mears suffered a flat right front tire, forcing the GEICO Chevrolet to pit road under green. Despite the tire failure and a broken sway bar as a result of the blown tire, Mears battled to cross the finish the line in the 21st position.
Under sunny skies and the warmest temperatures in years for the fall event at the Virginia short track, Mears took off from the 26th starting position and quickly embarked on his journey through the field. Within the opening 30 laps, he entered the top-20 and by lap 48, the veteran driver arrived in the top-15. Even though the GEICO Chevrolet was "loose on entry," Mears continued his march forward and passed Tony Stewart to take over the 14th position on lap 55. During the middle portion of the 500-lap event, the No. 13 continued to consistently run inside the top-20 while long green flag runs ensued.
Unfortunately, misfortune would strike on lap 308, as the right front tire on the GEICO Chevrolet would fail, causing Mears to pit under green flag conditions. In addition, when the tire failed, the sway bar broke, causing the splitter to hit the ground abruptly on each subsequent lap. The fifth and final caution slowed the pace on lap 358, allowing Mears to return to pit road. The Germain pit crew provided him with fresh tires, fuel and a packer adjustment to help alleviate the issues, since the sway bar could not be fixed without going behind the wall for repairs.
Despite the final 113 laps being uncharacteristically caution-free and Mears continuing his drive with a broken sway bar, the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet crossed the finish line in the 21st position.
"Our GEICO Chevrolet was a little off early in runs, but once we got going, the car definitely got better," said Mears. "It's unfortunate we had that tire go down and broke the sway bar as a result, because we were running strong all day up until that point. We kept pushing through the issues though and were able to come home with a solid finish considering what we were up against. We will head to Texas and try to finish the year out strong."
With three races remaining in the 2016 season, the Sprint Cup Series now heads to the Lone Star State for racing in Fort Worth, Texas. Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, November 4th for opening practice at 12:30PM ET. Qualifying will follow at 6:45PM ET.
The AAA Texas 500 will take place on Sunday, November 6th, with NBC carrying live television coverage beginning at 2PM ET. The Performance Racing Network (PRN) and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio channel 90 will also have the live radio broadcast.