Mears Endures Trying Day in the Desert Avondale, Ariz. -- Casey Mears and the No. 07 Jack Daniel's team went into Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway with high hopes, but multiple ...
Mears Endures Trying Day in the Desert
Avondale, Ariz. -- Casey Mears and the No. 07 Jack Daniel's team went into Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway with high hopes, but multiple setbacks resulted in a less-than-desired 27th-place finish.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native remains 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 47 markers in arrears to 19th-place point man Joey Logano, and 27 points ahead of RCR teammate Kevin Harvick in 21st.
The 31-year old driver posted the 13th-fastest time in Friday's practice session, and improved on that speed by qualifying ninth later that afternoon. On Saturday, Mears posted the 12th-fastest speed in the final practice and went into Sunday's race on a positive note.
As the green-flag waved to begin the 312-lap event, Mears fought the handling on the No. 07 Chevrolet. He faded to 24th before the afternoon's first yellow-flag waved on lap 116.
After receiving four fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment during the caution period, Mears restarted 23rd on lap 119. Two laps later, he slowed as several competitors in front began stacking up. A driver behind him failed to slow down and ran into the back of his black and white Impala SS.
Several stops were made under caution to repair rear-end damage from the incident and Mears returned to the track in 24th. As racing resumed, he was able to pick up three spots before another multi-car accident occurred in front of him on lap 171.
Mears made it through the wreckage, but he did receive damage to the right-rear of his Chevrolet. Once again, Mr. Jack's crew made repairs under caution, added tires and topped off the fuel cell.
A long green-flag run ensued and, on lap 230, Mears radioed his team about a potential issue with the engine of his Chevrolet. Once the leaders began hitting pit road on lap 141, he hoped for a caution while he tried to stretch his fuel mileage.
The No. 07 was scored eighth 10 laps later, but Mears reported he was out of fuel. Although he was able to coast his way to pit road, once fuel was added and the engine re-fired, the Jack Daniel's team was scored 27th, three laps down to the leader.
The race remained green until its conclusion, trapping Mears and Co. in 27th when the checkered flag waved.
Jimmie Johnson earned his seventh victory of the season, edging RCR's Jeff Burton to the finish line by 1.033 seconds. Denny Hamlin finished third, Mark Martin was fourth and Martin Truex, Jr. rounded out the top-five finishers.
Mears' other RCR stable mates, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick, finished seventh and 24th, respectively.
Casey Mears: "It was a long day. We were off on the set-up in the beginning of the race and that got us behind. Then, we were involved in those two accidents, had that engine issue and then ran out of fuel as we hoped for a caution. We'll keep our heads up and look to finish the season out strong next weekend at Homestead." Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit will close out the 2009 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.