Mechanical Failure Relegates Target Team to a 37th-Place Finish Martinsville, Va. (April 18, 2004) --- Casey Mears and the Target Team were poised for a solid run at Martinsville when mechanical failure forced them behind the wall. Mears...
Mechanical Failure Relegates Target Team to a 37th-Place Finish
Martinsville, Va. (April 18, 2004) --- Casey Mears and the Target Team were poised for a solid run at Martinsville when mechanical failure forced them behind the wall.
Mears started the Advance Auto Parts 500 12th after his qualifying effort on Friday. The team struggled in the final two practice sessions on Saturday, but made some significant changes to the Target Dodge before the race.
The 500-lap race only ran five green-flag laps before the first caution waved. Mears told crew chief Jimmy Elledge the car was better than it had been all weekend. Racing resumed on lap 22 with the No. 41 Dodge in 11th. The second caution waved on lap 25 and Mears told Elledge the car was tight off the corner. The next 90 laps were run without a caution and the Target Dodge began to drop back in the field.
The caution finally waved on lap 119 and Mears brought the car down pit road for a trackbar adjustment, four tires and fuel. When racing resumed on lap 127, Mears was 19th. He dropped back to 22nd on lap 127 and told Elledge he thought something was wrong with the car. He brought the car to his garage stall on lap 135. The team determined the rear gear broke on the Target Dodge.
The team worked to replace the gear and get Mears back on the track to try and gain points. He joined the field on lap 218, but was now 80 laps down. The race was red flagged on lap 291 when part of the track came apart and caused damage to several cars. The track was repaired and racing resumed. The team's day continued to get worse as the rear gear once again broke on lap 341.
The Target crew fixed the gear for the second time and the No. 41 Dodge was able to finish the race. Unfortunately the team was forced to settle for a 37th-place finish. Mears slipped two spots in the championship standings and now sits 20th.
"We were OK today," said Mears. "I thought we were pretty good on a 40-60 lap run. We weren't as good as some of the other guys, but we were holding our own and staying on the lead lap. We made some changes and the car was a little better there, but then the gear starting blowing up. I think it started happening at the end of that long run.
"I was having a lot of fun out there beating and banging around. I was looking forward to getting a full race under my belt. It's too bad we broke this gear, because we had a really good car. I feel bad for everybody involved. These guys busted their butts getting this car ready. We had a good qualifying spot and we were happy about this. We just had some bad luck."
The Target Team heads to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the Aaron's 499.