NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Talladega Superspeedway Casey Mears Morning Press Conference Quotes NOTE: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Target, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Casey Mears will team up once again to promote...
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
Casey Mears Morning Press Conference Quotes
NOTE: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Target, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Casey Mears will team up once again to promote breast cancer awareness to racing fans across the country. The No. 41 Target Dodge Charger will sport a special pink paint scheme for the second year in a row that will carry the logo of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Mears will take the helm of the pink Dodge Charger for five Cup races in October: Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte, Martinsville and Atlanta.
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger) --
"We're really excited about it. Again, this year we're running the breast cancer car. We're just helping them try to promote breast cancer awareness and also everything that we're doing this year -- the diecast cars, all of the sales that we have going on through Target, through Chip Ganassi Racing, and also my website www.caseymears.com -- all of the proceeds this year are going to go breast cancer research. It's been a lot of fun. Last year we jumped into this deal, and we kind of jumped into it late. I didn't really know exactly what we were getting in to. We just knew that we wanted to help out because it was a big deal to Target. This year we were a lot better prepared for it. We're actually going to auction off my helmet. We had a special paint scheme this year on my helmet, and we're going to auction off that. That's going to go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, my suits, and all that stuff. We're a little bit better prepared this year and really ready to support it."
How well do you guys expect to run weekend at Talladega?
"Last year we were very fast at the superspeedways. We had really good cars and no problems running right up front. Hopefully, we'll be right back where we were last year. We struggled a little bit at the beginning of this year at Daytona and Talladega. I think we struggled with the new configuration this year, as far as the new nose package. We had to change our bodies up a little bit. And, I think the guys have got a lot of that back now. They've had a lot of time to work on the cars. We'll find out in this first practice. Hopefully, we're fast. These places they're so much fun when you have a fast car, and they're so miserable when you don't. Hopefully, we can come out of the box fast.
On his recent trip to Biloxi:
"Yesterday we had a great opportunity to take some of the, I don't know what they're called exactly, I guess some of the policeman down there that secure the medical facility down there in Biloxi, Miss. And after we took those guys down there we had an opportunity to take a look around. They took us all the way out to the beach to, really, what's considered Ground Zero for the hurricane. It was just unbelievable. I can't believe how much stuff it has torn up.
"To see it personally is so much different than watching it on TV. We flew over along the coast before we landed and just saw the massive devastation that that city and that whole area has undergone. And to be able to go drive all the way out to the beach and just see complete houses that used to be there that are gone... There are complete neighborhoods that you look at and all you can see is the slabs where the houses used to be. One house in particular that's pretty popular out there now is this one guy who had an 8,000 sq. ft. house. He had a huge car collection, a motorcycle collection, and it's gone. Everything is gone. All you can see is some of the wood on the floors, some of the tile on the floors. Some of his cars are 600 yards away in other peoples' neighborhoods. It's just amazing to see how much power the water, the rain and the wind has done there. Certain areas where the bridges are completely gone, just massive, huge slabs of cement are completely gone. It's just unbelievable how big the devastation was there.
"Where the medical facility was, that was the main reason why we went down there is to go see the medical facility, and they have kind of what is like our race haulers. But it's a big two-slide trailer. And they actually built this medical facility in 2004. It was something that guys were wanting to do for situations like this. Fortunately it was done, really, just in time. It's unbelievable. They can house a ton of people inside this trailer. They have two tables that they can perform surgery on right there. The worst kinds of surgery or anything that they have to get to, they can perform right there in that trailer. It's pretty amazing what they've done in that short amount of time. I think they said they've served about 275-300 people a day right now, taking care of different people in different situations. It was a big eye opener, for sure. You watch it on TV, and we get so caught up with what we do every weekend that it was nice to go there and just get a real good idea of what actually went down there. And it makes me just want to help out that situation that much more."
Who went with you?
"I went with David Stremme, and Kevin Hamlin went as well. Obviously some of our PR staff, and the majority of the rest of the guys on the plane were security for that medical facility."
Do you realize that if Robby Gordon throws your helmet, that it will be worth more in an auction?
"I know. I was kind of wondering if I could get him to rub on it a little bit, or at least talk about it. Because his went for so much, we're hoping to do the same for breast cancer awareness if we can. It was funny, because that was an idea that we've had for quite a while. It was something that we wanted to do. And then when we saw him get $50,000 for his helmet I thought, 'Well man, maybe if I get wrecked I can throw it at somebody and we can raise a little bit more for them.' But, they'll have to pay for half of my fine. I'll take half of that out for half of my fine."
Do you come back feeling changed after seeing that kind of destruction?
"Yeah. I think you do. Anytime you experience something like that, it changes your thought process. I'm kind of sad to say that I get so caught up -- I guess I'm speaking more for myself when I say this -- with what I do every weekend, week-in and week-out... You watch it on the news... I watch so many movies and just TV all the time, and you're just so used to seeing things like that on TV, and it kind of goes over your head a little bit. You realize that there is huge devastation. You realize that there are a lot of people that need help, and you want to help them. But, until you go there and you actually see it, reality sinks in.
"Heather (Kincel) my PR girl there ran into a girl. We were standing on a bridge that was once there, we were standing on the front of it, and there was a lady that walked by and they started talking to her a little bit. She was saying how she kind of rode the hurricane out inside her attic with her grandkids, I think was grandkids, or kids... And to see those people first-hand that actually just rode it out... We went to the medical facility, and they said that there were six or eight dead bodies on top of the K-Mart there. Where they actually housed the medical facility, they had dead bodies inside. To be there at that place, all the water is gone now, but to realize how high the water had to get to get people up on top... I think they said there was a live cow on top of the K-Mart after that. You don't realize how high the water had to get to do that. 10 miles out from the ocean was where the airport was, and they say it was three to four feet under water. It's just crazy to think of how much water was there. Every single house from that area forward was completely under water. If you look at some of these houses, you think, 'Man, some of these people aren't bad off. They still have their house.' But inside it's just gone. They're going to have to tear it down. It's just unbelievable how bad it is."
On strategy, racing at Talladega:
"I don't think there is a good strategy. I've seen guys lay back and get caught up in it. I've seen guys move to the front and get caught up in it. For me, the way that I do it, I just race hard to stay at the front all day long. If you race hard to stay in the front, even if you fall to the back and you work your way back to the front again, at least hopefully it happens two or three cars behind you if you can get inside of that top five. That's the way I look at it. To me the safest guys are the two or three that are up front. If you can be there, that's great. And also, the way that I look at it too is if you fall back and you just ride, you don't learn anything. Each year the rules change a little bit. Each year you don't know which cars are faster. We might have a fast car, or we may not. But, I think if you charge hard and get to the front all day long you start learning who those fast guys are, who you can work with, how to get to the front the fastest. So, I just kind of focus on staying up front all day.
Talk about the non-Chasers racing vs. Chasers out here this weekend?
"You know, I really don't even think about it that much in the race. The only time I really think about it is maybe leading up to it, or when we get in the media center and talk about it a little bit. But, in the draft, I don't think it's going to affect hardly anything. Because you're so tightly bunched together, you've got to work with the guys you're around regardless of who they are. And, hopefully, they'll work with you the same way."
Do you have any Busch plans for next year?
"I don't have any immediate plans for next year in Busch. I'd like to run some Busch races. We talked about it at the end of last year, running maybe six or eight Busch races this year, and that never did really materialize for a lot of different reasons. But, I definitely want to run some Busch races. I enjoy running the Busch races. I think that it's just more track time. You learn a little bit more about the tracks. I don't feel like I'm behind by any means, we're really focused on what we've got going on right now. But, for fun and to learn a little bit more on the side, it's definitely a good thing."