Paul Mears Jr. Back in the saddle at VIR (Alton, VA) 19 April 06-- Paul Mears Jr. has been itching to get back behind the wheel of the 500-hp Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR Lexus-powered Riley ever since his run was cut short due ...
Paul Mears Jr. Back in the saddle at VIR
(Alton, VA) 19 April 06-- Paul Mears Jr. has been itching to get back behind the wheel of the 500-hp Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR Lexus-powered Riley ever since his run was cut short due to mechanical problems in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Mears, who is contesting a limited schedule of events during the 2006 season, will get to scratch that itch this weekend as he teams up with Mike Borkowski for the VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway.
Even though he started his racing career later than many of his competitors, Mears shot to the top right away, taking big steps up the motorsports ladder and adapting at every turn, running in the Daytona Prototype category consistently since 2004.
Last season, the Mears scored a podium at California Speedway co-driving with Borkowski, and the two also combined for a seventh place finish at Watkins Glen in September.
"I like the fast tracks a lot," said Mears. "VIR is quick, but it can also be pretty technical, so it's quite a challenge. But, I love driving and racing these cars and the track has a lot of high-speed sections, so Mike and I should have a good time this weekend."
Mears, who runs Orlando's premier transportation services firm, Mears Transportation and Mears Motor Coach, is also a highly talented pilot, often flying himself to races in a twin-engine plane as he is always finding ways to fill his need for speed.
Last year at VIR, Mears started the race from eighth on the grid, but the race didn't play out as the team had hoped. Going off-track to avoid two competitors cars that had tangled, the team lost two laps to the leaders, but came charging back as the car proved quick from start to finish, often putting in lap times right on pace with the leader.
"We had a car that could have won this race last year, so we know the track and should be quick right off the truck," said Borkowski, who added to his impressive Rolex podium finish tally earlier this season in the Graydon Elliott entry, scoring third in Mexico City with Paul Tracy. "It's going to be fun having Paul racing with us again. We have some good data for the track, and even though it is surely going to be very competitive as Rolex always is, hopefully we can score a strong finish again."
The VIR 400 will see an exciting new qualifying format set the grid for Sunday's race, as a thirty-minute qualifying race on Saturday will determine the starting order, with the race providing the same points payout as the full-distance race.
"It is good to see Paul behind the wheel again," said Fusion Racing Managing Partner Dennis Bainbridge. "He has been a big part of the team and I know he will do a great job this weekend at VIR. We had a solid top-ten finish at Long Beach, and hopefully we can do even better and get back up on the podium again this weekend."