Darlington: Casey Mears race report

Mears finishes 34th at Darlington Raceway. DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 16, 2003) --- Casey Mears finished 34th in the ...

Mears finishes 34th at Darlington Raceway.

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 16, 2003) --- Casey Mears finished 34th in the #41 Target Dodge in Sunday's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year candiate currently sits 30th in NASCAR Winston Cup championship points standings.

Mears started the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 in 24th position. He felt extremely comfortable in his Target Dodge during the first part of the race. After two cautions and a 14.33-second pit stop by Team Target, Mears was racing in the top-10. "The Track Too Tough To Tame" was no match for Mears early on as he went from 10th on lap 39 to sixth on lap 62. During the next caution, Team Target hit a 13.820-second pit stop, putting Mears out in seventh place on lap 74.

Unfortunately, following this pit stop the car became tight in the center of the corner and loose off. Mears began to loose ground on the other competitors in the center of the corner and slowly dropped back to 19th position by lap 110. Halfway through the race, Mears was sitting in 23rd position with the same car troubles.

Later, other problems arose. Team Target got caught in the pits during a caution on lap 188 and restarted at the tail end of the lapped cars. Late in the race on lap 244, Mears radioed in stating that he felt he had a flat tire. He rode it out for a while but was forced to pit on lap 277 when he could not turn the car well. The toe of the Target Dodge was knocked out and Mears would have to hold on until the end of the race to finish in 34th place.

"The Target crew did great today in the pits," Mears said. "We had a great run early on running up front with the leaders but after a pit stop there in the middle of the race the car went away from me in the corners. We were loosing a lot of ground there. Then we got stuck in the pits during a caution and I got into the fence a little at the end and knocked the toe out. Overall, it was disappointing to have a bad finish when we were running so well at the start of the race. We'll have to take it and head to Bristol next weekend."

Ricky Craven was the eventual race winner, beating Kurt Busch to the finish line by .002 seconds.

Team Target heads to Bristol, Tennessee next weekend for the Food City 500 at the 0.533-mile short track. The race will be broadcast live on FOX television and PRN radio on Sunday, March 23.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Ricky Craven