Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Impala SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Mears talked about life this week after his first Nextel Cup victory, on the performance of his team in the Busch Series,...
Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Impala SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Mears talked about life this week after his first Nextel Cup victory, on the performance of his team in the Busch Series, if he would ever consider doing the Memorial Day "double" and what he enjoys about Pocono. An audio file of the interview is also included at the end of this transcript.
WHAT HAS LIFE BEEN LIKE THE LAST FIVE DAYS? "It's been good. Like I've been telling some other people, I'm very, very happy obviously that we won the race but probably more relieved than happy. It's just been so long and it was just nice to be able sit back and take a deep breath this week and relax a little bit, just think about what we have to do. We tested at VIR on Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday I got a chance to spend some good time with some of my friends around the lake on Memorial Day. Like I said, Tuesday and Wednesday tested and had a little bit of time off yesterday at the house for the first time, returned a bunch of phone calls. It's just been a good week. I think everybody's in a good mood. I'm very happy with what happened over the weekend and I'm just ready to get going again."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE WITH THE WIN YOU BROKE THROUGH A WALL AND NOW BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS ARE ON THEIR WAY? "I hope so. I've been seeing it going in the right direction the last four or five races. We've had some really competitive race cars. We haven't had a whole lot to show for it just because (we were in) the wrong place at the wrong time or just something happening that's kind of out of the ordinary. Fortunately we were able to piece that one together last weekend and proved to lot of people out there that we're a team that's competitive and has an opportunity to win and now I think that internally we've always known that the potential was there, now externally everybody around us understands that. I've never really let myself be bothered with those kind of pressures, the outside pressures, but it obviously weighs on your mind because now that we've won I feel a little bit more relaxed for sure."
DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT FEELING WALKING INTO DOVER? "No, you're getting ready for the next race. Obviously it feels great because a lot of people walking up and down pit road are congratulating you over the weekend. I've met a lot of good friends in this garage over the past few years here and it's just really cool to see a lot of the guys that are involved with other organizations that are just as excited about the victory as we were. On that end it's definitely different for sure but at the end of the day when you get on the track it's Dover and we got to go racing."
WHEN YOU STARTED RACING IN THE BUSCH SERIES WOULD YOU HAVE BELIEVED YOU'D GET YOUR FIRST WIN IN MAY 2007? "When I started Busch racing I never even thought I was going to be able to go Cup racing. When I started Busch racing, I honestly thought I was going go Busch racing for about a year so I could figure out what open wheel series I wanted to go back to and go from there. Things have took off and obviously got a great opportunity with Hendrick Motorsports here and here in the sport and it's just unbelievable. Obviously I was hoping to win sooner but I'm in the right place (with) the right people, right sponsor, great organization and I think that we can keep making progress every single weekend making the team better. This win is just going to take a little bit of pressure off everybody and allow us just to focus on our jobs and work that much more harder at it."
WAS IT IMPORTANT TO WIN BEFORE THE 42 CAR WON THIS YEAR? "I didn't even think about that."
ON GOING TO POCONO NEXT WEEKEND AND THE SPECIAL CHALLENGES THAT TRACK PRESENTS: "Pocono is a lot of fun. I thought it was a lot more fun when they let you shift. Honestly that was probably 90 percent of what made that place really fun was being able to shift but it's still a cool place and it's very unique. It's a very difficult track to get your car right for just because the three very distinctly different corners but I'm looking forward to going there. Last year everybody at Hendrick Motorsports ran really well there. I think their engine program suits that track and they had a great setup for it so I'm looking forward to seeing what we have when we go back."
WAS THERE MORE PRESSURE TO WIN WHEN YOU SEE YOUR TEAMMATES WINNING WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT? "I don't think so. You got to be realistic and understand where we were on the 25 side. I think that people think just because you sign with Hendrick Motorsports all the sudden everything is great and you should be able to go win races right out of the gate. The bottom line is we had a new driver, a new crew chief, ended up having a new car chief a couple of races into the year and we got a lot of growing to do and we still do. We're probably about 15 percent into 100 percent of our potential which is encouraging because I know it's going to continue to get better. But I think from the outside looking in it's easy to make a comment like that or think that direction but when you're on the inside looking out you really understand how much work we've done to get to the point where we're at now and understand and why we haven't had the success early but I think as we go down the road things continue to get better and stronger and it's great to see our teammates win. It wasn't really pressure on me, I felt like it was actually encouraging that it's all here, you know everybody is winning. We've got the equipment, we've got the stuff, we just got to wrap our arms around it on the 25 side and fortunately we were able to do that last weekend."
ON THE BUSCH SERIES SIDE, DO YOU SEE SIGNS THAT YOU ARE GETTING CLOSER THERE AS WELL? "We've been close since day one on the Busch side. That team has been together for the last couple of years and they made some huge improvements with their cars over the off season. Right out of the gate we've been in contention to win races from the very start and I think we've been very close there since the beginning of the year and we've got a very fast car here at Dover. Everybody is wearing out tires pretty fast here in this first practice and we opted to quit early just because the tires were wearing out so fast we wanted to save some for the race. The car is very fast, they're doing a good job again and we've had an opportunity to win week in and week out in the Busch Series."
ON HIS VICTORY AND THE RELIEF OF PRESSURE FROM THE WIN CARRYING OVER TO THE BUSCH SERIES AND FOR HIS NEXTEL CUP TEAM: "For everybody, I think that everybody is just so happy within the organization. Obviously the 25 team got a win last year and it was a true win but there was obviously some overshadowing with the way that it went down and because of that I think everybody is very happy about this one. They're able to celebrate, they're able to enjoy it and I think it's kind of contagious throughout the whole company. Obviously the whole team has been winning and doing a good job but for now all four of the teams to be race winners this year and (for) everybody to know that every single team has the potential to go win, it makes everybody that much happier around the shop."
ON HIM BEING GOOD FRIENDS WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND JEFF GORDON AND IF THEY EVER GAVE HIM A PEP TALK OVER THE LAST YEAR AND REINFORCED HIS BELIEF THAT A WIN WILL HAPPEN? "Sure, sure. Jimmie has been a great friend for a long time and I've gotten to know Jeff through all that too. I talked to several guys about different scenarios and situations they've been through, people that had tough starts, people that had starts and had immediate success. You're good friends are always there for you and those guys have always given advice. I think this year now being teammates they're able to give more technical advice and more details of what's going on on the track, what they actually do and it's really great to have that."
ON THEM BEING ABLE TO GIVE HIM TECHNICAL ADVICE: "To be honest I can't even remember one particular time in my head, I'm just trying to give you a good answer for your question. Having good friends like that, they're always there to give advice and pat you on the back when things are bad and give you congratulations when things are going good."
NOW THAT YOU'VE WON THE NASCAR MEMORIAL DAY RACE DO YOU EVER SEE YOURSELF TRYING TO DO THE DOUBLE WITH THE INDIANAPOLIS 500? "I've envisioned myself doing that for a lot of years, it didn't take this to make it happen. The only thing that stands between doing that and actually making it happen is the time difference. I'd love to do it sometime. For me it's not as important as it used to be in the past. Obviously the 500 still means a lot to me. It's a huge race and a huge race in my family but I felt like now that I've been here for about four or five years I feel so much more at home here now, I feel like this is my place and I'd kind of being going back there just to do the race. If it could be put together, if it could be done right with a good team that's capable of winning the race, I'd love to do it but otherwise I'd rather just focus on being successful over here on this side."
ON IF HE'D HAVE THE SPONSORS TO RACE IN THE INDY 500: "I would imagine if it was an opportunity and Rick (Hendrick) was behind it and supportive of it, which I don't know if he would be or not. I'm sure that we could do a little calling around and drag up some interest to go do it but to be honest I haven't gotten past the first two percent even thinking about that. It's not an option right now because of the time difference. Then if that ever changes then I might get my wheels turning that way."
ON IF THEY TOOK A GAMBLE WITH FUEL LAST WEEK: "A slight one. It was very, very small though. I think Darian (Grubb) said it best when he didn't really feel like it was a big gamble because first of all if he felt like we could make it as long as I was saving enough fuel. Secondly if we did run out it looked like the worst we were probably going to be was 10th or 12th because there wasn't that many guys on the lead lap anymore. I think that being where we were in the points if there would have been 30 guys on the lead lap it would have been a lot more difficult decision to make because we would have felt like we needed to come in and make sure we had a solid finish for the points but the fact that there were only about 10 or 12 guys on the lead lap, it gave us the option to go ahead and risk it. It was a small risk and obviously we made it."
-credit: gm racing