CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target/Breast Cancer Research Foundation Dodge Charger) NOTE: Mears qualified ninth for Saturday night's race, and his Dodge Charger was ninth fastest in Friday's first practice session. Mears has scored top 10 finishes in...
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target/Breast Cancer Research Foundation Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Mears qualified ninth for Saturday night's race, and his Dodge Charger was ninth fastest in Friday's first practice session. Mears has scored top 10 finishes in two of the last three races. The 27-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native will make his 103rd Cup start Saturday night at LMS. He'll be trying to improve on his career-best fourth-place finish earlier this at Watkins Glen.
"We've got a good car. We're really close to being excellent. We're still a little bit tight, but we made a couple of changes at the end of practice to free it up a little bit and it made a big difference. I think the track will get tighter as the night goes on and everyone is going to start going up higher. We'll see how it goes. I think we'll have a good shot Saturday night."
HOW DO TRACK CONDITIONS COMPARE TO THE LAST RACE HERE? "I'd say it's about the same as last time. It's got a little more grip because they redid it. The one thing I like about it more this time is it's more consistent. They redid the whole track. They just didn't do patches. The patches really messed me up the last time we were here. I think it might be a little better than it was last time, but it's still not as good as it used to be. I liked it better before they cut on it at all. It's going to be very hard to pass. It's not going to be so much because of the speeds. If you can run high like we used to be able to here, and run low, then you'll be able to pass."
IS THE TEAM COMING AROUND? "Honestly we're no different. We're just finally getting some results. All year long it's been a tire or a sparkplug wire falling off or getting in a crash that wasn't our fault. We almost buried our heads in the sand a few races ago wondering what we had to do to catch a break. Finally we're coming home without any major issues. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow."
LOOKS LIKE THE CHASE DRIVERS ARE DOMINATING THE RACES. WHAT'S THAT ALL ABOUT? "I'm not giving any of them extra room. I'm out there for me, not for them. Five of the cars have been dominant all year. Then the other guys who are there earned it. They're there because they're fast. They're fast. They're consistent, and they've done a good job. It's not a surprise to me that they're there every week. I'm so focused on our deal. I was riding with Jamie and Carl Edwards to the Martinsville test, and I told them a lot of times I realize some of these guys I'm racing are in The Chase, but 90 percent of the time I don't even think about it. It's just another car I've got to pass to get to the front. I'm racing them just as hard. I've had close calls with a couple of them, but it doesn't dawn on me until later that they're in The Chase. When you're racing you just don't think about it. If you think that way and give up spots to those guys, you just fall back, so you can't think about it that way."
DOES IT TAKE A REAL MAN TO DRIVE A PINK CAR? "I'm getting used to it, and I kind of like it. It's something different. It looks like three or four other guys did something with Breast Cancer this year in the Busch Series. Maybe we opened the door in Cup. You catch all kinds of stuff for it, but at the end of the day you appreciate it if you've gone through it or have had a family member who has gone through it. It's been fun. It gets us a little attention, and so far we've run good with it. Maybe it's good luck for us."
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON? "I signed a four-year deal with Chip (Ganassi), and he had an option on me for the following year. He picked up that option. Next year we're going to run the Home 123 car, and I think it's going to be No. 30. Beyond that I don't know yet."
ARE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE AFTER ALMOST THREE FULL SEASONS IN CUP? "Team wise, it's a great team, and I'm having fun. Honestly if we had the finishes we deserved without those stupid things happening all year long we'd be sitting in the top 15 in the standings. I'm very disappointed with where we're at in the points, but I know there's a lot of potential there."
DO YOU LIKE RACING AT THIS TRACK? "It's great being home. It's just a fun track. I feel like this is home now. I go back to California, and I miss some of those people there and some restaurants. It's always going to be where I grew up, but this does feel like home now. When I walk into my house here, I feel like I'm home. I don't feel like I'm visiting a different neighborhood."
WHAT WILL YOU WORK ON IN HAPPY HOUR TONIGHT? "We're a tenth away from being very good. We're a little tight. We're going to make a few changes on the car to make it better. We just need to get the car balanced. We'll see how it goes, but I'm really optimistic about our chances here tomorrow night. Maybe we can turn those top 10 finishes into a top five finish and give those Chase guys a run for their money."