CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger) NOTE: Mears, a 26-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native, was 13th fastest in the first practice session Friday. Mears will make his 74th career start on Sunday. DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES FOR THE FINAL...
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Mears, a 26-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native, was 13th fastest in the first practice session Friday. Mears will make his 74th career start on Sunday.
DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES FOR THE FINAL PRACTICE? "Yeah, we're looking for more front grip. I think the rear is going to feel bad no matter what you do to it because of the spoiler change. We just need to get it turning a little bit better coming off one and two. This big cloud that just came over will help out a lot because the sun was beating down real bad in one and two. Three and four wasn't too bad. Everybody I talked to was concerned about one and two. If we can get it turning a little bit better I think we'll be in good shape."
DIDN'T TURNS THREE AND FOUR GIVE YOU PROBLEMS DURING THE TEST HERE EARLIER THIS MONTH? "The wind was blowing across the nose and getting the cars real tight. One and two was easy because it had a bunch of downforce going in. The sun was beating down in one and two today harder than it was in three and four. We had a little problem with our test motors. It was hard to tell if we needed to get more out of the cars or more out of the motor. We came back with a good race motor and the guys did a good job. We're right in the hunt."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE? "I think it's cool. It gets you thinking. Everybody wants to qualify good, but it puts more emphasis on racing. Right now, with everybody getting the cars to travel as much as they possibly can, and running the softest springs they possibly can, it changes the way you qualify. I think everybody is basically going to be unhappy in qualifying trim. It's not going to feel good. You're going to be hanging on. It's pretty much going to be race trim, but they're allowing you to put some rounds in it to get a little bit more bite. You can adjust your tire pressures. You can get it to where it's a little bit too tight, but it's going to be a much finer line of not bottoming out. You travel a lot further when you pick up speed, but it's only for two laps. You've got to make sure you're good for the race first and foremost."
COMMENT ON PIT ROAD SPEEDING "I had a misunderstanding of how it's always been. To be honest, I didn't do anything different at Daytona than I've done in the last three years. The last pit box is where almost everybody got caught. I envisioned pit road speed being where the camera was on the end of pit road. On down where the cones are there's a pit road speed line. Everybody, until they got this new electronic system, when they got to the end of pit road they would gas and take off. That's what I did, and I think that's what most everybody else did that got caught. I've got a pretty good idea now. Now that things are more accurate you've got to be more critical getting in and getting off. When you're going down pit road it's easy because you can look at your tach, but there's got to be some leniency there. Now they have something that's very accurate. What we have in our cars is not very accurate. They could vary 200-300 rpm. I'm glad they have an accurate system now, but if they're going to get strict about it, they need to give us something more accurate, too."
ANY GOOD CALIFORNIA HOME COOKIN' STORIES TO TELL? "Jamie and I went to do The Best Damn Sports Show and we hung out in Hollywood a couple of days. We didn't do anything too crazy. We went to some nice restaurants, did some shopping and kind of relaxed for a couple of days.
"We went to a party waiting to get in and Ashton Kutcher walked in. We met him the week before in Daytona. He had recommended a place for us to stay down there and we stayed there. It was funny because we ran into him in the front. He told Jamie and I how we ran at Daytona and where we finished. He helped us getting a better seat at the party, so that was pretty cool.
"The off weekends are stacked together at the beginning of the year, and you feel guilty taking so much time, but you've got to take it when you can get it. I haven't been to Bakersfield in a couple of years now so I'm going to take a trip down and stay down there a couple of days after the race. I'm coming back to Southern California and relax at the beach with some friends in San Diego and then go to Vegas a little bit early."