Bristol: Casey Mears race report

Mears a Victim of Short-Track Racing at Bristol Bristol, Tenn. (March 28, 2004) --- Casey Mears and the Target Team were victims of short-track racing at Bristol Motor Speedway... twice. A punctured radiator put the team down several laps ...

Mears a Victim of Short-Track Racing at Bristol

Bristol, Tenn. (March 28, 2004) --- Casey Mears and the Target Team were victims of short-track racing at Bristol Motor Speedway... twice. A punctured radiator put the team down several laps early and a mid-race accident sent them back to the garage for more repairs.

Mears earned his best starting spot at Bristol on Friday when he qualified the Target Dodge 24th for the Food City 500. The No. 41 was stuck on the outside groove when the green-flag waved on Sunday and lost several spots before he could get down to the preferred inside groove. He worked his way back up to 25th when the caution waved on lap 58 for a spin. He brought the Target Dodge down pit road for new tires, an air pressure adjustment and fuel.

Racing resumed on lap 65, but debris was spotted on the track. The green-flag waved on lap 73 and the Target Team's luck was about to change. Mears radioed into the crew that something broke in the front end. He brought the No. 41 Dodge behind pit wall with a punctured radiator. The team immediately went to work to replace the radiator, but fell 30 laps down before they could get the car fixed.

"We're not exactly sure how it happened yet, but it looks like the fan got into the radiator and knocked a hole in it," said Mears. "We had a great car here, one of the best I have ever had at Bristol."

The Target Dodge returned to the track on lap 108 in 37th position. The day continued to deteriorate for the team when the No. 21 blew a tire that sent him into the wall and back down in front of Mears. The Target Dodge suffered extensive damage to the right front and was towed back behind the wall for repairs.

"We were just going to ride around and try to pick up a couple of spots if we could," said Mears. "Rudd blew a right front tire in front of us. As soon as it happened we were already both in the gas. I was underneath him and he went up hit the wall, came back down and got into me. I didn't have anywhere to go. You hate to have bad days like this, but if you're going to have one, having it at Bristol is a little understandable."

The team worked hard on the car to get it back out onto the track on lap 304. Although Mears was no longer in contention, he finished the race to gain valuable experience at the half-mile track. He finished the day in 36th position, 169 laps down.

The finish dropped Mears to 23rd in the championship standings. He sits just 121 points out of the NASCAR Top 10.

The Target Team heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Mears