Casey Mears in the No.66 Phillips 66 Dodge was the RaybestosÂ® Rookie of the race at Talladega. Mears finished fifth, his best career finish in the Busch Series and took home top finishing rookie honors for the first time this season. His...
Casey Mears in the No.66 Phillips 66 Dodge was the Raybestos® Rookie of the race at Talladega. Mears finished fifth, his best career finish in the Busch Series and took home top finishing rookie honors for the first time this season. His previous best was 18th at Las Vegas in March.
"We're happy about it. We got a lot of track position with that big crash. We'll capitalize on anything that we can right now. We had a lot of trouble early on in the weekend. We got taken out in 'Happy Hour' and crashed up our main car. We brought out the backup car and we knew that it wasn't going to be as quick but the guys did an excellent job in the pits. Right off the bat we were really, really tight and (crew chief) Donnie (Richeson) made a good call to put on some shocks and tires. I'm real proud of the guys because they did a very quick stop for what we had to do. That kept us on the lead lap and we went out and had a good run. "
YOU GAINED A LOT OF EXPERIENCE.
"That's everything. That's what I'm here to do this year, to finish every lap we can. We did that today and I'm real happy about that."
HOW DID YOU MISS THE BIG WRECK?
"We were fortunate that our car wasn't working very good at the beginning. It was so tight we couldn't get around this place. You say things happen for a reason and they did today because we had a bad handling car and we were in the back and it allowed us to miss that big wreck. You hate to capitalize on something but you've got to. I'm real happy for Phillips 66. The guys did an excellent job. We changed four shocks, came back in and got some tires. They did an excellent job on the pit lane without us losing any track position. I'm real happy for the guys today. We're happy about it. We got a lot of track position with that big crash. Right off the bat we were really, really tight and Donnie made a good call to put on some shocks and tires. I'm real proud of the guys because they did a very quick stop for what we had to do. That kept us on the lead lap and we went out and had a good run. "
HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO THE BIG WRECK?
"Pretty close. There were pieces flying everywhere and I was trying to slow down as much as I could. Luckily, I was far enough back that when things cleared I could see where to go. I had to go into the grass and when I did it buckled the valence under a little bit so I had to come in and fix that. We came out a lot better than other guys so I feel good about it. I'm just real proud of the guys today. We got taken out in 'Happy Hour" and had to go to the backup car and we knew it didn't have what the primary did. We stayed out there and had a good finish."
ONCE YOU WERE RACING AGAIN AFTER THE RACE RESTARTED, HOW MUCH DIFFERENT WAS IT WITH SO FEW CARS LEFT?
"It was a lot different, obviously, not having the big tow that you would from a big group. It ended up being a strategy deal where you had to place yourself in the right place. There were a lot of lap cars that were slow and you didn't know who to be with. It was a lot of talking with the spotter and talking with a lot of other people who were up in the spotting stand and just trying to place yourself in the right position. We did and we had a really good run and I'm happy."
HOW MUCH OF THIS WILL HELP YOU WHEN YOU GO BACK TO DAYTONA IN JULY?
"I think it will help us quite a bit. I'm learning a lot."
Three Raybestos® Rookies were involved in a multi car accident on lap 14 of the race. Johnny Sauter, Scott Riggs, and Shane Hmiel were all heavily damaged. Riggs and Hmiel were able to repair their cars and returned to the race. Sauter was out for the day.
SCOTT RIGGS, NO. 10 NESTLE NESQUIK FORD, FINISHED 19TH AND WAS RUNNING AT THE FINISH OF THE RACE.
"It was a pretty wild ride. I don't want to do a lot of those, but we're okay. Kenny (Wallace) in the 48 come up into me in my front end and hit my front end. I got sideways and had to get out of the gas a little bit to catch it. When I did, Shane (Hmiel) hit me and Shane said he got hit from behind also. It was just a chain reaction. Some people were making some little too aggressive moves but I was just trying to stay away from them and try to survive and miss all this craziness. It didn't happen. It's just a chain reaction when you run this fast and this close together. I had a run on the 48 there on the outside. Kenny acted like he was going to start up like he was going to try and block me and I think he realized that I was too far up beside him. He still came up and got into me. When he did, I just did check up just a little bit. When I checked up Shane said he tried to check up and he got hit from behind and he hit me and turned me in front of everybody. I just hate it for all the guys. We had a good car and we were trying to stay right there and pace ourself and be there at the end. Some of those guys were just making a little bit too aggressive moves to be this early in the race."
YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE A HIT THE BUSCH SERIES POINTS.
"That's the bad thing about it. It's not like you can put your finger on to something that happen that you can go fix. Running this fast, things like that happen and you try to check up and try to avoid them and still get caught up in a wreck."
SHANE HMIEL, NO. 47 THOMAS PACCONI CLASSICS PONTIAC, FINISHED 21ST AND WAS RUNNING AT THE FINISH OF THE RACE.
"Me and the 10 (Scott Riggs) were racing pretty good and the 48 (Kenny Wallace) moved up on him about two times. The 10 lost his nose and we had to check up and everybody ran into the back of us. Everybody probably thinks it's my fault, but it's not. We were just racing hard and people ran somebody into the wall. It's unfortunate. Our car was good. It's only 15, 20 laps into the race and it really stinks because our car was really good. It's unfair. Everybody waits for the big one and it happened."
HOW MUCH CONTACT WAS THERE BETWEEN YOU AND RIGGS?
"There wasn't as much contact between me and him as there was between the 48 and him. And then everybody drove through us when you have to check up at 180 (mph) it doesn't stop very fast."
JOHNNY SAUTER, NO. 2 ACDELCO CHEVROLET, FINISHED 33RD.
"I have no idea. I was just trying to hold my line on the bottom and the next thing I know I was pointed toward the fence or something. I don't even know. I don't have a clue. As soon as it happened I closed my eyes and held on. It (the hit) was definitely from behind. I think it was the right rear quarter. I'm not sure. The rest is history. The car is hurt pretty badly. We'll try and get it fixed and get back out. I had no idea it was going to happen. I was up front and nobody was in front of me so I was out there making laps and riding. Nothing radical was going on. It's bound to happen on a start like that when everybody is double file. Everything happens so fast it just happens, I guess. I don't know; I'm the rookie here."
THAT WAS A PRETTY WILD RIDE YOU TOOK.
"It was the wildest ride I've ever been on. I have never been on my lid before. I knew when I was upside down I was just praying that it would land on its wheels so I could get out of there."
YOU HAVE DIRT ON YOUR UNIFORM. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
"I thought that Talladega was a paved two and a half mile racetrack or whatever. It must have a little dirt left in it; it must be from that racetrack across the street."
YOU HAD A GOOD CAR BEFORE THE ACCIDENT.
"The car was real good. We were playing the drafting game back and forth see-sawing and see-sawing. The ACDelco car was strong and I thought we had a shot at winning.