Las Vegas: Casey Mears race report

Casey Mears Captures First Career Top-10 Finish at Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada (March 7, 2004) --- It wasn't the luck of Las Vegas that drove Casey Mears to his first top-10 finish of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career, but sheer determination and...

Casey Mears Captures First Career Top-10 Finish at Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada (March 7, 2004) --- It wasn't the luck of Las Vegas that drove Casey Mears to his first top-10 finish of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career, but sheer determination and team work. Mears piloted the Target Dodge to a seventh-place finish and earned a spot in NASCAR's top 10 in points.

Mears started the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 in "lucky" 13th after his qualifying effort on Friday. He dropped back as far as 16th on lap 45, but soon proved they had one of the best cars on the track. Mears was back up to 12th after the second caution flag waved on lap 86. The team adjusted on the No.41 after Mears complained the car was tight through the center.

Mears broke into the top 10 on lap 92, and when the caution waved on lap 136 he was up to seventh. The more laps the team ran on a set of tires, the better the Target Dodge performed. Mears passed the No. 97 and No. 9 on lap 161 to take over the fifth spot. When the caution fell on lap 164, Mears told crew chief Jimmy Elledge not to make any changes to the car.

The team's luck faltered when an air gun hose got caught up during a pit stop on lap 184, dropping Mears back to 12th. Another slight miscue on a pit stop on lap 200 moved him back to 14th for the restart on lap 206. Mears, however, wasted no time advancing through the field and by lap 225, moved back into the top 10. In the closing laps of the race, he picked off three more competitors to finish a career-high seventh.

"We've been working hard and it paid off today," said Mears. "That's the best finish of my career, and it feels great running up front. I thought we might have a shot at the top five, but it's hard to complain too much about seventh. The guys did a great job, and we even cracked the top 10 in the point standings."

The Target Team climbed from 15th to 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. This is the first time in Mears' career that he has been ranked in the NASCAR Top 10. He ranked 25th in points at this time last season.

The Target Team looks to carry the momentum with them to Atlanta for the Golden Corral 500 which will be broadcast live on FOX television and PRN radio on March 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-cgr-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Mears