Fontana: Mears - Friday media visit

CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed his Daytona 500 performance, the difference between Las Vegas and Atlanta, how fatherhood has affected his outlook on racing and much ...

CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed his Daytona 500 performance, the difference between Las Vegas and Atlanta, how fatherhood has affected his outlook on racing and much more.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE OUT IN CALIFORNIA AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR PERFORMANCE IN DAYTONA? "It feels real good to be back in California. We did an appearance on Wednesday and went to Bakersfield and caught up with friends and family which is kind of nice. That's one thing about California that's a lot of fun. I end up with a lot of friends and family that come out so that makes it one of the races that I want to win the most.

"As far as Daytona goes, I felt real good about Daytona. I felt good about our performance. I felt good about how the car drove. Just unfortunate that it ended when it did. I think you have two extreme opinions on the way the race ended verses what Matt (Kenseth) just had to say and we just had a really good car. I felt like we could have been inside the top-10 or top-five. At the same time we could have been in a real big one there at the end so we came home with 15th. Got some good, clean, solid points and we look forward to this weekend."

ARE YOU FEELING ANY SENSE OF URGENCY WANTING TO GET IT DONE QUICK TO MAKE YOUR MARK OVER THERE AT RCR? "I think so. I don't think it's any different than I normally feel going into the first part of the year. I think that if you talk to anybody to get a win right out of the gate relaxes anybody's year a little bit. We'd love to in obviously but at the end of the day I think where a lot of RCR's success has been obviously in being consistent as well. First off when we set foot on the race track we're out there to win but if you realize that you're in a position where it's going to be tough to win you try to salvage all the points that you possibly can and be as consistent as you can. I think if you look at the way my season started last year, we had a crash at Daytona and slipped in the water and got upside down here. To have two races that start out the gate where we don't hardly get any points at all just killed us. All though we want to have a lot of success early, I think there is a lot of focus in getting five solid races in to establish a good place in the points."

IS THERE A CHANGE IN GEARS AFTER YOU GET OUT OF DAYTONA? IS IT REALLY A DIFFERENT KIND OF MINDSET? "Yeah, I think you look at Daytona as Daytona then you look at the season just because there's so many different elements in Daytona that you don't typically deal with on a given race weekend. Obviously you're there for a week and a half, you've got the Shootout, you've got the 150's, the qualifiers which is totally different. Obviously we're dealing with cars that we can't tweak and tune that much because there's a lot of set rules when you get to Daytona. As far as changes you're pretty limited on what you can and can't do. So when you come to California its all so new. Okay the season starts now, we can put what we want in these cars, we can find out where we stack up against the rest of the field. We know that if we go to Daytona and we're a little down on speed we can still get in the pack and go race. Here you're going to find out real quick where you're at, where you stack up. What do we need to work on so definitely have that feeling. Now we're out of Daytona and looking forward to getting some laps on the track and find out where our 1.5-mile and two-mile program is."

ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE DRIVING EXPERIENCE. "My most memorable experience I think the coolest moment that I had -- to me it's kind of a toss-up between sitting on the pole at Indy and winning at Charlotte. I think Charlotte is probably the biggest memory that I have right now in racing. That's my fondest memory. At the same time it was very exciting to sit on the pole at Indy just because of my family's background there and history. To do that was a lot of fun. It just felt like the right place, right time. So between those two are probably my two fondest memories in racing at the moment for myself."

ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VEGAS AND ATLANTA. "Vegas obviously being paved not too long ago and obviously the track change it's definitely a totally different animal. It's actually developed some pretty good bumps getting into (turn) one that you've got to negotiate but once you get past that its fairly smooth, fairly consistent. The way that you drive the car is quite a bit different. Atlanta is very bumpy. The tires wear out very fast, you run right up around the top. You can do it the first lap if you want to verses at Vegas you run more toward the bottom and the middle of the race track. They're just totally different tracks. The way that the cars load - I think that at Vegas the cars load very progressive with the way the banking is. In Atlanta you kind of feel like you run off the straightaway and jump and land in the corner. So you see a lot more loading in the center of the corner of one because of the way the banking is too because you're just running much faster through the center of the corner. What we're finding out is the timing of your bump stops the way that all works drastically changes from a place like Vegas verses Atlanta. And when I say drastically change, drastically has kind of changed over the years too. It used to be completely different springs, completely different shocks. A totally different package. Now we're talking about a slightly different bump stop package and maybe a little bit of a spring change from those two places because smaller changes with these cars, we're seeing they make bigger changes to the car."

ON HOW HAVING A BABY HAS CHANGED HIS OUTLOOK TOWARD HIS RACING CAREER. "I've discussed this a little bit before and in Daytona as well. It's funny because I think being one of the younger guys looking at some of the guys that have children and have a little bit more of a family you think man they've probably slowed down a little bit. They're going to be a little bit more conservative because of that situation and in a lot of ways I think it's completely the opposite now being in that situation. It makes you want to try that much harder. It makes you want to be that much more successful. It makes you want be able to provide for that family now and that child. I think that it definitely brings a whole new light in my mind of the situation because I feel like because of that you think about it at night a little bit more. Hey we want to make something happen here. I want to prove myself. I want to do well. So I think from that perspective things have changed. I've always had a huge drive to do well and be successful but it's definitely affected my life and my racing career in a different way than I thought it was going to. It's not slowing me down its making me work harder."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup