Mears Ends Season with 19th-Place Finish at Homestead HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway also marked the final race of Jack Daniel's involvement with Richard Childress Racing. Casey Mears...
Mears Ends Season with 19th-Place Finish at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway also marked the final race of Jack Daniel's involvement with Richard Childress Racing. Casey Mears was hoping to end the five-year relationship on a high note, but changing track conditions hindered his performance and resulted in a less-than-desired 19th-place finish.
The No. 07 team finished off the 2009 season 21st in the championship point standings with four top-10 and 19 top-20 finishes.
On Friday, the Doug Randolph-led team registered the 19th-fastest time in the opening practice session before qualifying 15th later that afternoon. During Saturday's dual practice sessions, the team improved to post the eighth-fastest time in the latter session.
Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted the 70,000 race fans on hand to see 267 laps of racing, but as the sun faded, the track began to change significantly. Mears gained three spots in the opening 15 laps, but faded to 19th by lap 116.
During that time, Mears made four separate visits to pit road, receiving four tires and fuel each time. Additionally, Randolph ordered for a host of chassis and air pressure adjustments on each stop to get the No. 07 Chevrolet handling better.
The Jack Daniel's team elected to stay out following a lap 117-caution and restarted 11th as other competitors pitted. The adjustments made earlier began to help Mears as he cracked the top 10 at the race's midway point.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native was a mainstay in the top 10 for the next 20 laps before making a pit stop, while under caution on lap 157. As racing resumed and day turned to night, the 1.5 mile track temperatures began to cool even more.
The 31 year-old driver continued to be affected by the ever-changing track conditions, dropping to 21st before the final yellow flag was displayed on lap 218. Racing resumed on lap 222 and, over the final 45 laps, Mears was able to pick off two spots to take the checkered flag in 19th place.
Denny Hamlin earned the victory, beating Mears' teammate Jeff Burton to the line by 2.632 seconds. RCR's Kevin Harvick finished third, Kurt Busch fourth and Jimmie Johnson, who won his fourth-consecutive Cup Series title, rounded out the top-five finishers.
Mears' fourth RCR teammate, Clint Bowyer, came home 11th.
"This was definitely not the way we wanted to close out the season, but I'm proud of all the guys that have been apart of No. 07 program this year. There have been a lot of changes, but these guys never quit. They put a lot of hard work in this season and I have to thank all of them for their efforts. And a big thank you to Jack Daniel's for all their support, not only this season, but over the last five years."