CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD / GMAC MONTE CARLO SS TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT RACING AT HIS HOMETOWN TRACK AND JOINING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS ON BEING IN CALIFORNIA AND SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY "We're testing in Bristol next week so...
CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD / GMAC MONTE CARLO SS TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT RACING AT HIS HOMETOWN TRACK AND JOINING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
ON BEING IN CALIFORNIA AND SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY "We're testing in Bristol next week so we've got to go back home Monday after the race. But fortunately a lot of friends and family come here, so I get to spend time with them."
HOW IS THE CAR OF TOMORROW GOING TO IMPACT THE SPORT? "It is definitely going to impact the sport. But in what way, I don't know yet, until we run it. It's a huge change for everybody. Even though a lot of the same ideas apply to the COT as our current cars, they are a lot different in a lot of ways as well. So we've got a lot of learning to do."
ON JOINING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? "Brian (Vickers) left and I got the call. It was one of those deals where I was obviously in a contract year and was trying to decide what I was going to do when the seat opened up. I got a call from Rick Hendrick. And with Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) being really good friends of mine as well, it just seemed like a really good fit. And obviously they are a first class organization so I'm excited to be a part of it."
YOU'VE GOT SOME FIRST-CLASS TEAMMATES TOO. ARE THEY GOING TO BE ABLE TO HELP YOU OUT AT ALL? "Absolutely."
HOW DID PRACTICE GO? "Not good. We really struggled. I don't know. We've missed it pretty bad. We're trying to find out the issues right now before qualifying.
IS STARTING UP FRONT REALLY IMPORTANT HERE IN CALIFORNIA? "No. In these races these days, they're along enough and there is enough strategy involved that starting position isn't critical. Obviously you want to qualify well to get a good pit stall, and it makes it easier on you to start in the top 10, which we still might have an opportunity to do, but at this point we're kind of guessing a little bit going into qualifying because we were off pretty good."
ON MAKING HIS START IN RACING IN THE MTEG SERIES AND NOW RACING FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS "It's awesome. To think back five or six years ago to where I am now just amazes me. Things have just happened at the right time and at the right place. I couldn't be happier to be with Hendrick Motorsports and to be teamed up with the National Guard and GMAC as well is pretty special. I'm just looking forward to the season."
HAS YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR DAD, ROGER MEARS, BEEN SUPPORTIVE IN YOUR RACING CAREER? "Oh, always. I always look to him for support. He drives my motor home to all the races and has done that now for the last few years. When things are going good, he's there to pat you on the back and if things are bad, he's there to help you out as well. It's nice to have Dad on the road and obviously he has a lot of knowledge in racing so from top to bottom he's helped me a lot."
SHOULD NASCAR HAVE THROWN THE CAUTION EARLIER ON THAT LAST LAP AT THE DAYTONA 500? "I don't think anybody would have done anything different if they would have thrown the caution. You've got a bunch of hungry guys out there. There are 43 of us who want to win that race. When you're sitting there with the checkered flag in sight - even if the caution comes out, you're going to be hesitant to check up just in case. If they did throw the caution early, you don't know where those timing lines are. You can't physically see them. So with the checkered flag that close, I don't think anybody would have checked up or done anything different anyway.
"For the most part any seriously dangerous situations were avoided anyway. If there would have been a crash going into Turn 1, and they didn't throw the caution, with what happened off of Turn 4, there would have been an issue. But everybody that wrecked was going to wreck anyway, regardless of whether or not they threw that caution. There is always a fine line in a gray area, but I think for as much as they get criticized for various cautions and too many green-white-checkered's. Mark (Martin) is a great, but he has been a big proponent for not having cautions come out. So I think they did the best job with the scenario they had, you know, having the race finish the way it would have finished if there wasn't a caution. I don't view anything any different. I've always known that beyond the last lap, things are different. As a driver, if you take a guy out in the middle of a race, you're a bad guy. But if you take a guy out with one lap to go, hey, you're did what you could to win. Those last lap scenarios are always different and NASCAR's got to make those calls as well."
-credit: gm racing