Casey Mears ...
#66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard
The 500 - Sunday, Nov. 4, 2001
California Speedway - Fontana, Calif.- 2-Mile Tri-Oval
Round 21 of 21 on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series
Casey Mears and the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard finished eighth in today's rain-delayed CART FedEx Championship Series season finale that was shortened from 500 miles to 440. Mears started 21st but worked his way into the top 10 by Lap 56 of an originally scheduled 250. He was in third place by Lap 86, and moved into the lead by Lap 88. He led for just one lap, then rested comfortably in the top three during the middle stretch of the race and led again on Lap 108. He pitted just one lap before a caution period on Lap 154 brought out by Mauricio Gugelmin's mechanical failure, and ended up at the back of the pack as the race leaders ahead of him were able to pit under yellow. Mears re-emerged in ninth when the race was restarted on Lap 167, and he stayed in the top 10 the rest of the way.
Teammate Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard finished fifth today after starting 14th. Cristiano da Matta won for the second week in a row and the third time this season. Max Papis was second and Alex Tagliani was third.
The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series begins March 10 in Monterrey, Mexico. A 19-event schedule was announced by CART this afternoon featuring new venues in Montreal, Denver and Mexico City. Tony Kanaan will move to the Pioneer/WorldCom-sponsored Honda team car while Hollywood and Mo Nunn Racing go over to the Indy Racing League to field an entry for that series' 2001 Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone.
"Wow, this was the best race we've had all year. Well, in the four races that I was able to live my dream thanks to Morris (Nunn). It was an honor to take over for Alex Zanardi under not the greatest circumstances. But the Morris and the team were just awesome to work with and I really thank everyone for believing in me. They gave me a great car today. I really felt comfortable all day. I felt like I could run with anybody on the track. If we would have had some more laps, we might have been able to charge all the way to the front with Tony. But I'll take what we got. We made it all the way to the end and we had a very competitive car."