Daytona 500: Casey Mears preview

TARGET TEAM FACTS: * Chassis: Team Target will race chassis ...

TARGET TEAM FACTS: * Chassis: Team Target will race chassis #006 during Speedweeks 2003.
* Mears has competed in only one Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway - he finished 24th.

CASEY MEARS QUOTES:

"I think Jimmie Johnson set the standard high for everybody. I'm thinking, 'Man, I've got to go out and win Daytona to beat this guy.' I'm a rookie and that's the bottom line. We're going to have every opportunity in the world to be successful. Target Chip Ganassi Racing has given me everything I need to do well. We have the highest expectations in the world but we are also realistic. If we come into this season and get some full races under our belt and get some top-20 finishes then I think we've had success. But at the end of the day there isn't one of us that doesn't want to win a race and sit on poles."

Competing with Jamie McMurray for rookie honors? "I don't think it's going to be difficult competing against Jamie for Rookie-of-the-Year honors. We have one goal at Chip Ganassi Racing and that is to have all three cars run up front. And at the end of the year if we're fighting each other for the championship or for Rookie of the Year then that will be great. But I think the focus right now is to get all three cars up front."

"It's going to be huge to have Sterling's input as a teammate. Obviously, Sterling's been very successful in the past and last year he had an unbelievable year leading the points for so long. Having a person to speak with that has that much depth and experience is huge for a guy like me coming in. I'm going to be able to lean on him a lot. Obviously, having a three car team is going to enhance that. Sterling is going to be the leader in this deal. Jamie and myself will both be looking to him for the information and we'll be leaning on him a lot this year."

"Jamie and I are going to be able to work together a lot. We're both going to be following Sterling a lot but I think Jamie and myself will be working together a lot. We're in a situation that no other rookies have been in. Jimmie (Johnson) came in with Jeff Gordon; Ryan (Newman) came in with Rusty Wallace. Those guys came in with someone to lean on but we're in a different situation. We've got Sterling Marlin to lean on but we also have each other to play off of. I feel really good about it. I feel really comfortable right now and I'm excited about the year. We'll all be working together to get the Ganassi three up front each weekend."

JIMMY ELLEDGE QUOTES (crew chief):

"You face new challenges every year. The younger generation of drivers seem to be doing the best. The way the tires and cars are now it seems to be catering to the way the younger generation of drivers drive. Some of the older drivers are adapting, some of them aren't but it seems that the younger drivers are adapting more quickly. I'm not sure what it is about it, if it's their age or if they don't know any better about it. I don't feel anymore pressure this year than I normally would."

Ganassi and Performance? "At the end of the day, all three of these sponsors are spending money to win races and run up front. When I was hired they didn't say, 'Hey, go run 20th every week.' At the end of the day it's all about performance. You've always got to be better than the next guy."

Expectations for season? "We'll I don't want to say the same stereotype answers: sit on poles, win races, and do this that and the other. I really don't want to set the expectations to high to where the expectations are unreachable that it makes things worse because you can't even get to your goals that you've set because you've set them way too high. Everyone wants to win races and sit on all the poles and lead laps. Everyone wants to do that. Once we get started we're going to see what our shortcomings are and we're going to work on them to bring the low points up to mid-points and the good-points up to high-points."

CHIP GANASSI QUOTES (owner):

Expectations for this season? "I have to look at it a couple different ways. First of all with Sterling in the Coors Light car, we have high expectations there is no question. With Jamie we want to validate what happened in 2002 with him and continue that. With Casey in the Target car we want to get him off to a good start and carry that through the season. Our expectations for this year are like they always are. We are about performance around here and we want to do well. You can have a great year and not win the championship. We want to be in the top-3 for sure. We're fortunate to have the wily veteran and two young rookies. It's the best of both worlds."

Can you make a three-car team work? "The answer lies ahead of us. I surely think we can or I wouldn't have done it. It's about the people we have and we have great people on our team. It starts with Andy Graves and Tony Glover and it flows down from there. I'm excited about it. You're either getting big or your getting smaller. If you're standing still you're backing up." <pre> TEAM TARGET CREW:

Name            Crew position           Race shop duty
Casey Mears     Driver                  Driver
Jimmy Elledge   Crew Chief              Crew Chief
Andy Graves     Team Manager            Team Manager
Tony Glover     Team Manager            Team Manager
Al Shuford      Team Trainer            Team Trainer
Darren Wolfe    Front Tire Changer      Front Mechanic
Marty Forcier   Front Tire Carrier      Paint Shop
Randy Cox       Rear Tire Changer       Car Chief
Heath Cherry    Rear Tire Carrier       Race Day Only
Mark Jacobs     Jack Man                Race Day Only
Les Huntley     Gas Man                 Suspension Specialist
Todd Anderson   Catch Can Man           Chassis Setup
Doug Spees      Windshield              Tire Specialist
Andy Graves     Spotter                 Team Manager
Russ Bales      Engine Specialist       Engine Specialist
Chris Coxon     Engineer                Engineer
Paul Clapprood  Pit Support             Front Mechanic
Trevor Lynse    Pit Support             Test Team
Dave Shano      Pit Support             Truck Driver
Bill Henderson  Pit Support             Rear Mechanic
Roger Parkinson Pit Support             Shocks
Melissa Zeno    Scorer                  Race Day Only

-cgr-

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Series NASCAR-CUP