Rockingham: Casey Mears race report

Mears has learning day at North Carolina Speedway. Rockingham, N.C. (February 23, 2003) --- Casey Mears and Team Target made it through some growing pains during the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. After 393 laps around the 1.017-mile ...

Mears has learning day at North Carolina Speedway.

Rockingham, N.C. (February 23, 2003) --- Casey Mears and Team Target made it through some growing pains during the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. After 393 laps around the 1.017-mile track, Mears took the checkered flag in 30th place but not without overcoming a few challenges along the way.

Mears, driver of the No. 41 Target Dodge, qualified for the Subway 400 in 16th position and ran in the top-25 for the majority of the day. Mears' car was good on long runs; unfortunately, he didn't get many due to the numerous cautions of the race.

The first challenge Team Target faced came on lap 177 when Mears came into the pits for a four-tire change. The #17 car had left a tire out and Mears had to come into his pit stall at an angle. Team Target performed a 13.817-second stop but due to the angle of the #41 Dodge, the #20 car was blocking him in. Mears had to back up his Target Dodge in order to get out of his pit, loosing valuable positions on the track.

"We were doing good," Mears said. "I was learning a lot. We were a little bit tight at the beginning, and we made it better. On a pit stop the #17 had a tire in front of us, and I had to come into our pit at an angle. I was blocked by the #20 car, so I had to back up to get out, and we lost all of our spots. We were tighter that run out and lost a lap. After that, we were good. We started on the inside of these guys and ran up front."

The second challenge of the day came when Mears had a flat tire late in the race on lap 368. He was able to save his car from hitting the wall but he lost three laps to the leaders during the closing laps of the race.

"I had a flat right rear tire late in the race and we came close to hitting the wall," Mears said. "Off of turn two I felt it and into three it jumped sideways on me and I almost got into the fence. But we saved it, which is good. The car was good, it was just the circumstances didn't go our way today."

Mears, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, took a 30th place finish for his learning experience at "The Rock." He currently sits 30th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship points standings.

"Not the kind of day that we wanted but all of the guys did a great job working through the challenges we had," Elledge said. "Casey looked 100% better on the last 100 laps of the race. He really learned a lot today and continues to improve."

Team Target hopes to find their luck in Las Vegas next weekend. Casey Mears will compete in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 2, 2003.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Mears