This Week's Jack Daniel's Chevrolet for Homestead -- Miami Speedway ... Mr. Jack's Crew will unload chassis No. 282 from the Richard Childress Racing stable, which made its debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. After finishing 19th...
This Week's Jack Daniel's Chevrolet for Homestead -- Miami Speedway ... Mr. Jack's Crew will unload chassis No. 282 from the Richard Childress Racing stable, which made its debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. After finishing 19th there, this Chevrolet Impala SS was run at Michigan International Speedway in August with a finish of sixth, Dover International Speedway in September finishing 17th and Lowe's Motor Speedway in October finishing seventh.
Mears in Miami ... Through his six previous starts at HMS, the 31-years old native of Bakersfield, Calif., has one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His best start and finish was sixth and fifth, respectively, on the 1.5-mile oval in 2005. Mears average start is 26.5 with an average finish of 19th place. He's led two races for a total of 76 laps and completed 1,594 of 1,607 (99.2 percent) circuits contested. Through those six starts, Mears has qualified in the top 15 three times.
Still no DNFs ... Through the first 35 races of 2009, Mears is one of only three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have been running at the finish of every race.
This Hood is for YOU ... After five years of partnership, Jack Daniel's announced in September they would be discontinuing their NASCAR sponsorship with the conclusion of this weekend's race. In honor of their association with RCR, Jack Daniel's has placed the name of every driver, crew member and administrative person who was part of their program at RCR on the hood of this weekend's No. 07 Chevrolet.
One Trophy Missing from the Shelf ... Homestead has been a bit of an Achilles Heel for RCR as one of the few race tracks where team owner Richard Childress hasn't earned a Sprint Cup Series victory. As a company, RCR's best finishes at HMS came in 2003 and 2008 when Harvick finished second. In 29 starts, RCR has four top-five and 13 top-10 finishes at the mile-and-a-half, progressively-banked oval with drivers Dave Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Green, Harvick and Mike Skinner. Auto Club Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway are the only other tracks on the current Cup Series schedule where RCR has yet to visit Victory Lane.
In looking at your stats from the past six races, there's a top-five and two top-10 finishes for you. This track seems like it's been pretty good for you?
"Yeah, Homestead has been a pretty good track for me. The year Tony Stewart won the championship (2005), we had a huge lead in that race with about five to go. We were getting ready to lap Tony and the caution came out for debris. So, we've had some pretty good races there and it's been a pretty good track for me. I look forward to going back there because it's the end of the year and where we're at in points, I just don't think we have a whole lot to lose. So, we're going to go out there and try to win this race. Not that we don't try to do that every race, but with it being the last one, you just tend to let it all hang out there a little bit more."
How has this season gone by for you? For some, it's been a long drag, but it's gone by quickly for others.
"I would say the beginning and middle of the year felt like about three years. But, the last six or seven races have gone by like they were all just last weekend. When things are going good, everyone is positive, everything is good and everything just goes by so fast. But, when it's not going that way, it just seems everything goes in such slow motion making the season drag on-and-on.
"It's been cool to see RCR turn a corner this year and get back to where we needed to be, and are capable of being every week. Unfortunately, it's now a season I don't want to see end."
With this being the championship weekend, there are three guys who could leave Homestead with the crown. Do you race those guys any differently, or is it business as usual?
"You know, I can't say I've given one guy any slack this year, to be honest. I've never given the Chase guys more room or been more lenient with them. We're out there to win races, but I do understand what they're trying to do this weekend. For the last race of the season, I think it might be a little different with so much on the line. A mistake by someone else could really dictate who is going to win the championship. I don't think you want to go down in history as the guy who screwed it up for someone else and cost them a championship."
What are your plans for the off-season? Do you have anything on the calendar, or are you just going to wing it?
"I have a lot of things going on this off-season. First, Jimmie Johnson and his wife are planning a five-year anniversary trip to where they got married. So, Trish (fiancee) and I are going to attend that deal. That's taking place right after the banquet.
"We're also going to go out to the sand dunes in California and have a little fun during Thanksgiving. We're going to have Christmas at home here in Charlotte with my daughter. This will be her second one and I'm sure she's going to want to rip open some presents.
"Then, Trish and I are getting married in January out of the country. So, that makes for a pretty full plate in the off-season."