Martinsville II: Casey Mears race report

Late-Race Contact Ends Top-10 Run for Mears at Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Late-race contact from two different drivers in the closing laps of the Tums Fast Relief 500 kept Casey Mears and the Jack Daniel's Racing team from the top-10...

Late-Race Contact Ends Top-10 Run for Mears at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Late-race contact from two different drivers in the closing laps of the Tums Fast Relief 500 kept Casey Mears and the Jack Daniel's Racing team from the top-10 finish they had worked so hard to achieve at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

The eventual 18th-place finish dropped the No. 07 program one position, to 19th, in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings with four races remaining.

The Bakersfield, Calif., native had the sixth-best lap during Friday's qualifying session, posting a run of 19.714 seconds at 96.054 mph on the 0.526-mile paper clip-shaped race track.

The green flag waved Sunday at 1:47 p.m. Eastern Standard Time under overcast skies and cool temperatures. Mears kept the No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet Impala SS in the top 15 for a majority of the afternoon and had battled his way to 10th on lap 425. A strong green-flag pit stop by Mr. Jack's crew five laps later found Mears back to 15th, moving back into 10th again on lap 475.

Crew chief Todd Berrier kept Mears on the track during a lap-483 caution to protect track position with less than 20 laps remaining. The move garnered three spots and the No. 07 lined up seventh for the restart on lap 489. Mears dropped two spots in the ensuing three laps, but was still looking good for a top-10 finish before getting punted out of position by the No. 5 car on lap 492 and the No. 43 car the next lap.

Caution on lap 495 allowed Mears to come in for fresh tires, but when racing resumed for a green/white/checkered finish on lap 499, it allowed little time for the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet to pick up any positions.

Virginian Denny Hamlin earned his third victory of the 2009 season, holding off Jimmie Johnson at the checkered flag. Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five finishers.

Mears' RCR teammates Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer finished 10th, 15th and 19th, respectively.

NASCAR's senior circuit heads next to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the season's final restrictor plate race.

CASEY MEARS: "It was another solid day for the Jack Daniel's team, but we again didn't get the finish we deserved. We started the race out pretty loose, but Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made some great calls and the guys did a great job in the pits. I wasn't even in the low lane when we got punted near the end, so I'm not sure what that was all about."

-credit: rcr

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya