CASEY MEARS, No.13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
What did you think of the new surface at Daytona when you tested? "It's nice and they did a really good job resurfacing the track. It's really smooth. There were a lot of big swells and big bumps in it that they took out. Those are completely gone. There's some choppy bumps, but its way smoother. It's easy, wide open and it's going to be real tight, close racing. More like Talladega. It's going to be fun and it's going to be exciting for the fans. At the same time, it's going to be easier to get caught up in something that's not your doing so you have to be real careful and keep your eyes open."
What are your expectations being with Germain Racing this year? "I'm excited about it. I haven't had a real good opportunity to talk to a lot of the guys, everybody has been on their own separate ways over the offseason, but I'm sure as we get clicking along here I will see them a lot more. As far as everybody that works at the shop -- the Germain brothers, everybody -- they are great guys. I really enjoy working with them. Obviously we're all working hard to get the full season of sponsorship in, which has been the only thing holding us back. We've got really good cars, a good team, a good pit crew -- (Robert) Bootie Barker (crew chief) does a great job and Mike Hillman Sr. (general manager) has been putting a good program together. Fortunately, the Germain's are pretty committed to making it work. We had some fun at the end of last year and looking forward to seeing what it brings us this year."
How does it feel to know you are with one team this season versus the adversity of last year? "Last year was so patchy. It was a good year for me though, really. In a way that obviously, I wanted to be racing and I didn't want to be a part of that whole scene just trying to figure out what was going on. It was helpful for me to see the other side of the coin a little bit and understand and really appreciate the opportunity that I have now with Germain. I've always had a motivation to do well just because I've always loved to do well, but I think there's an added motivation there just seeing how close it could be if things do go the way they should. It makes you want to work that much harder to make sure that you can persevere and make things happen. All the guys are in the same mindset as I am. They are all people, all guys that have proven themselves, but never on a consistent basis. We all have something to prove right now and it's a good position to be in."
What was it like when Brian Vickers asked you to fill in for him last year? "What a mix of emotions that deal was with Brian (Vickers) being such a good friend. First concerns are his health and how he's going to cope with things, is he coming back? All that kind of stuff. That all quickly rushed through because it was like, `Here's what's going on with me. Do you think you can get in my car?' Now here I am with no ride and getting an opportunity and at the same time feeling horrible for what he's having to go through. He's done a good job handling everything. I think he was smart in kind of just getting away last year. It's very, very hard to see something that you love so much -- for him to be at the track all the time I think it would have been very difficult to watch everybody do the job that he wants to do. I think it was good for him to get away, relax, get better, heal up and ready to go for this year."
-source: toyota motorsports