Martinsville: Mears, Evernham - Dodge interview

CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) "We unexpectedly didn't run well at Atlanta. That's a place where we usually run well, and that got us down. Bristol is just Bristol. I think we would have been somewhere between 10th and 12th...

CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)

"We unexpectedly didn't run well at Atlanta. That's a place where we usually run well, and that got us down. Bristol is just Bristol. I think we would have been somewhere between 10th and 12th if we hadn't got caught up in a crash. We were going around the outside of the 49 and he hit the apron and cleaned out the whole left side of my car. After that we got stuck in the back after we fixed it and got caught up in just about everything that happened after that. I think we ended up 25th. I'm not happy with the direction we're going, but Bristol is Bristol. The biggest thing that concerns me is Atlanta because we're going into Texas and that's a track where I typically run well, too. I'm hoping we can get back to the form where we usually are there."

IF BRISTOL IS BRISTOL, IS MARTINSVILLE MARTINSVILLE? "It is somewhat. We did a lot of testing at Caraway the last couple of weeks and the biggest thing is I'm up to speed on the short track stuff. We made some changes and tried some things that I think will help us now at Martinsville. Something I've always been looking for here is to get the car to turn a little better in the center. I think we've found some things there. I feel better about it than I ever have, but this definitely isn't my favorite racetrack. On the circuit, it's probably my worst track as far as actually liking it. I think we're going to run better this year here than we ever have."

DO YOU THINK THE BRISTOL MENTALITY WILL CARRY OVER TO MARTINSVILLE? "I don't know. Martinsville is always after Bristol and that's kind of a topic. I don't have any issues with anybody, so I'm not too worried about it. Other guys have issues with each other and we might look out for that, but I didn't really get into it with anybody."

WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR MARTINSVILLE? "You try to survive. It's like Bristol, but it's not as bad. Bristol is one of those deals where the speeds are so high that a small mistake is a big mistake and it ends up usually being about 10 guys mistake. At Martinsville, you get banged up with a guy a little bit, but there's not enough speed to tear up your racecar. I say that, but the accidents aren't usually as bad here. There's a lot of beating and banging, but it doesn't typically end your day."

COMMENT ON DODGE WINNING TWO STRAIGHT "I hope we can make it three in a row. I think things are fine. Obviously, Evernham and those guys stepped up at Atlanta and figured out how to get their aero package right. For Busch to run well at Bristol, Bristol is a very non-aero place, but I think it's great for Dodge. I think we can definitely continue that if we do everything right. We think we know what our problem was at Atlanta. We're taking a different car to Texas, so we think we'll be as strong as ever down there."

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RAY EVERNHAM (Car Owner, CEO Evernham Motorsports)

NOTE: Evernham has been selected as NASCAR's top all-time crew chief in a vote by a national motorsports media contingent. Evernham's selection was announced Friday at Martinsville Speedway.

"I want to thank the media for thinking of me like that. I never thought about myself on the level of Dale Inman and Harry Hyde and Leonard Wood and people like that. Those were my heroes, and it really did blow me away. To do the things you have to do as a crew chief, you've got to be part of a great team. I was fortunate enough to have a great team with Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors. Again, I just tried to do my job the best I could every day. I was watching something about Smokey (Yunick) this morning and he said, 'in the end, what you've got is the value of what people think of you and what you think of yourself.' NASCAR is the biggest sport in the world and gives opportunities like that to people like us. In the end, we're all basically mechanics. All we've ever wanted to do is make a racecar go fast. To be recognized for being able to do that is just an unbelievable honor to be even mentioned with this group of people. I appreciate it and thank DirecTV and NASCAR. Again, it just blows me away. For the honor to come from people who know the business means a lot more than anything else you'll ever get. This means a great deal for me."

-dodge-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon