Atlanta: Casey Mears race report

Mears continues to improve with a top-25 in Atlanta. Hampton, Ga. (March 9, 2003) --- Casey Mears drove his Target Dodge to a 23rd place finish in the Bass Pro Shops 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mears sits 27th in NASCAR Winston Cup...

Mears continues to improve with a top-25 in Atlanta.

Hampton, Ga. (March 9, 2003) --- Casey Mears drove his Target Dodge to a 23rd place finish in the Bass Pro Shops 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mears sits 27th in NASCAR Winston Cup Championship points; he is currently the highest Raybestos Rookie on the points ladder.

Team Target started the day in the back of the pack due to a poor qualifying run on Friday. Mears took his 33rd starting spot as a challenge and a learning experience. He raced hard all day and fought with a tight race car before taking the checkered flag in 23rd position in his second career stock car race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The most progress for Team Target was made in the pits on Sunday. Mears stalled his car during the first stop of the day, locked his brakes up during the next two stops, and was consistently entering the pit box too deep. Crew chief Jimmy Elledge instructed Mears and the pit crew how to improve the stops. Halfway through the race, Mears got his rhythm of entering the pit box. Following the improvement, Mears and the Team Target pit crew hit two almost perfect pit stops at the end of the day. Mears progressed to entering the pits correctly and the team was able to hit a 14.19-second pit stop for the team's best time of the day.

"We just keep progressing every weekend," Mears said after the race.  "We
came here and we were a little off on the setup for qualifying.  All of us
ended up getting pretty loose and qualifying near the back.  That's all that
happened today.  I think if we started in the top-10 or top-15 then I think
we could have run up there all day long.  We had a good car.

"We keep improving every weekend. I've got so much to learn. How we're running now isn't a direct result of how were going to run at the end of the year. We're going to improve throughout the year."

-cgr-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Mears