Mears, Choctaw Casino Resort Team Remain Positive After 21st-Place Finish at Texas FORT WORTH, Texas -- Despite their less-than-desired 21st-place finish in Sunday's Dickies 500, Casey Mears and the No. 07 Choctaw Casino Resort Chevrolet team...
Mears, Choctaw Casino Resort Team Remain Positive After 21st-Place Finish at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Despite their less-than-desired 21st-place finish in Sunday's Dickies 500, Casey Mears and the No. 07 Choctaw Casino Resort Chevrolet team left Texas Motor Speedway on a positive note, based on the gains found during the later stages of the event.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native remains 20th in the NSCS championship points standings, 29 markers behind Joey Logano in 19th and 36 points forward of his Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick in 21st.
On Friday, Mears recorded the 35th-fastest speed in his mock qualifying run during practice and followed that up with the 36th-best time in time trials later that afternoon. During Saturday's dual practice sessions, the Doug Randolph-led team recorded the 21st-fastest time in the first practice, and registered 30th on speed chart for Happy Hour.
Sunny skies greeted the 167,000 fans on hand for Sunday's 500-mile event. Once the initial-green flag flew, heavy traffic and early long-green flag runs trapped Mears inside the top-30 running positions. Following a green-flag pit stop on lap 55, Mears and Co. found themselves one lap down to the leaders in 31st.
As the race progressed, Mears and Randolph, in only their second race together, methodically worked to improve the handling on the No. 07 Impala SS with each pit stop. By the race's midway mark on lap 167, the 31-year old driver was running speeds comparable to those in the top 15.
Mears continued to race hard for the 'Lucky Dog' spot as the laps ticked away, but long green-flag runs hindered his advancement.
Over the closing 50 laps of the race, it became apparent that fuel mileage would be a factor in the 334-lap race's ending.
Randolph called Mears, who was running 21st, to the attention of the Choctaw crew for the final stop of the day on lap 318 and they bolted on four fresh tires and topped off with fuel. The smart decision allowed Mears to maintain his position of 21st as the checkered flag waved.
Kurt Busch stretched his fuel to take his second victory of the season. Denny Hamlin finished second, Matt Kenseth was third, Mark Martin finished fourth and RCR teammate Harvick coasted to the finish line fifth.
Mears' other RCR stable mates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton finished seventh and ninth, respectively.
Casey Mears: "Starting in the back really hurt the No. 07 team today and we were too tight to start off. We got the car dialed in during that third run but, by then, we were already a lap down. We definitely showed faster speeds as the race went on and, if we had got back on the lead lap, I think we were anywhere from an eighth- to 15th-place car. We'll try and rebound next weekend at Phoenix."
Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit will visit Phoenix International Raceway for the second and final time of the season.
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