Darlington: Casey Mears race report

Target Team Overcomes Adversity to Bring Home a Top 15 Darlington, S.C (March 21, 2004) --- Casey Mears and the Target Team captured their third top-15 finish this season at Darlington Raceway. The team fought its way back from one-lap down...

Target Team Overcomes Adversity to Bring Home a Top 15

Darlington, S.C (March 21, 2004) --- Casey Mears and the Target Team captured their third top-15 finish this season at Darlington Raceway. The team fought its way back from one-lap down and a damaged front nose to finish on the lead lap in 15th place.

Mears battled the handling on the No. 41 Target Dodge from the drop of the green flag. The team made numerous adjustments on the car during the race including several chassis adjustments to try and improve the handling. Mears was running in the top 20 when the second caution of the day waved on lap 53.

Mears brought his Dodge down pit road for a routine pit stop, but a lug nut fell off costing the team several spots on pit road. When racing resumed Mears was 32nd. He tried to work his way back up through the field, but the car was extremely loose. After a green-flag pit stop on lap 118, the Target Dodge was 30th and one-lap down to the leader.

A multi-car incident caused several cars to check up in front of Mears on lap 160. The Target Dodge suffered extensive front end damage so the crew immediately went to work in the pits. They made some repairs to the front fender during the caution, without falling another lap down. Mears came down pit road a second time so the team could put on fresh rubber and make a trackbar adjustment. He was 29th when racing resumed on lap 169.

The caution flag waved again on lap 183 and the Target Team put new sheet metal on the damaged front end. The repair seemed to make all the difference for Mears and the No. 41. He was 29th when racing resumed and would have to race up to 18th to earn the "lucky dog" and get his lap back with just 100 laps remaining in the race.

Mears picked off several cars on the track, while the pit crew moved him up several spots during their next stop. He was 20th by lap 257 and passed the No. 01 car on lap 269 to become the first car one-lap down. The team's luck changed when the caution flag waved on lap 274 to put the Target Dodge back on the lead lap.

In the closing laps of the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, Mears battled his way up to the 15th spot before the checkered flag waved. He gained two spots in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings and currently sits 17th, just 85 points out of the top 10.

"After the way we started, coming home 15th says a lot about this team," said Mears. "They repaired the car after the fender was bent in and continued to work on the handling. We battled back from a lap down to earn the lucky dog and put ourselves in position to finish 15th. I'm proud of my guys and the way they handled everything thrown at us today.

"If we continue to rack up top-15 finishes, we'll give ourselves the opportunity to get back in the top 10 in points."

The Target Team heads to Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend for the Food City 500.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Mears