Phoenix II: Casey Mears preview

Target Team Facts: * Running up front: Casey Mears and the Target team have been putting on quite a performance lately. In the past seven races, they have accumulated one top-five and four top-10 finishes. Mears tied his career-best finish of ...

Target Team Facts:

* Running up front: Casey Mears and the Target team have been putting on quite a performance lately. In the past seven races, they have accumulated one top-five and four top-10 finishes. Mears tied his career-best finish of fourth at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend after leading for 23 laps.

* Standings: The team has moved from 25th to 23rd in the championship points standings over the past seven races, and sit just 34 points behind 22nd-place competitor Kasey Kahne. Mears finished 22nd in the standings in 2005.

* Phoenix: Phoenix International Raceway has been anything but kind to Mears and the Target team. Mears and the No. 41 Target Dodge were running third last fall in Phoenix when a blown tire sent the car into the outside retaining wall with just six laps remaining in the event. Mears and the team suffered a similar fate in April when a part failure sent the Target Dodge into the wall relegating them to a 39th-place finish.

* Chassis: Mears will compete in chassis #306 for the Checker Auto Parts 500 this weekend. He has piloted this chassis twice this season, at Las Vegas and Darlington. He finished seventh at Las Vegas in chassis #306 and looks to repeat that performance at Phoenix this weekend.

Casey Mears Quotes:

On Phoenix: "I'm really looking forward to this weekend. We are coming off a strong finish at Texas, and I can't say enough about the Target team. It felt great to run up front and have one of the fastest cars on the track. Our execution was great, and if we continue running the way we have been we can win a race before the season is up. The only trouble we had was on fresh tires, it took us about 15 laps before we really got going, and we needed long green-flag runs to make the time up we lost. My biggest concern was a late-race caution, and that's what happened.

"I've raced in several series in Phoenix, between open wheel and stock cars. It's a great track. We've run really well in the Target Dodge at Phoenix in the past, we just don't have the finishes to show for it. Last fall was really tough to swallow because we were heading for a top-three finish when we lost the right front tire. But the car was extremely fast, we raced from the back up to the front and then had trouble with six laps to go. It showed us that if we get the car right we can run up front. We changed the set up on the car in the spring race and didn't run as well, but we are coming back with the package we ran last fall so I'm optimistic about this weekend."

-cgr-

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Series NASCAR-CUP