This Week's Jack Daniel's Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway ... Casey Mears will pilot Chassis No. 242 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's AMP Energy 188-lap, 500-mile race. The last time Mears ...
This Week's Jack Daniel's Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway ... Casey Mears will pilot Chassis No. 242 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's AMP Energy 188-lap, 500-mile race. The last time Mears drove this racer was the July 400-mile event at Daytona International Speedway. He started 24th and finished 34th after getting together with another car and spun into the interior wall in the early going, losing 17 laps in the garage while making repairs.
Talladega Totals ... In 13 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega, Mears has logged four top 10s, including a career-best sixth-place finish in the Oct. 2007 event with a best start of seventh April 2007. The Bakersfield, Calif., native has earned a 20.4 starting average and a 21.3 finishing average. He has led eight races for a total of 27 circuits completing 2,001of 2,458 (81.4%) of laps contested dating back to April 2003.
From the Rearview Mirror ... Mears and the Jack Daniel's team qualified sixth and were en route to a top-10 finish at Martinsville Speedway last weekend. But, with just a few laps remaining, Mears was knocked from 10th by two different cars on two consecutive laps resulting in an undeserving 18th-place finish. As a result, he dropped from 18th to 19th, which he now trails by just one marker.
I Can See My House From Here ... Jimmy Kitchens, spotter for the Jack Daniel's Racing team, is a native of nearby Hueytown, Ala. The former NASCAR Nationwide Series and ARCA driver is a four-time champion at Birmingham International Raceway with more than 200 feature wins in late models. He raced in the ARCA RE/MAX Series from 1997-1999 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 1998-2005. His last Nationwide Series start came at Talladega in 2005 where he finished 15th. His career-best finish at Talladega was seventh in April 2002. Kitchens has been a full-time RCR employee since 2008 and works as a shop mechanic during the week.
You have two top-10 and four top-20 finishes in your last four starts at Talladega, that's a pretty good roll for this track:
"Yeah, I'm knocking on wood here as you say that to me. (Laughs) Talladega has been a pretty good place for me. Obviously, you're always concerned when you go there about getting caught up in a multi-car wreck. But, the real reason I'm excited about going there this time is we're taking the car we had at Daytona in July. We had top-five times on the practice charts, but got spun early in the race and had to make repairs in the garage. That car was unbelievable and I think we had a very fast race car. The speed was there, it sucked up in the draft well and we're bringing it back for this weekend. The engine shop has worked really hard to make sure we still have that speed, if not more. There is no doubt in my mind that, if we're anywhere inside the top 15 with a few laps to go, we can go for the win."
The restrictor plates have been made smaller to try and slow the cars down. Do you think it was a good move, and how does it play out in regards to the racing at Talladega?
"It's going to be interesting to see how it does affect the cars there; I don't think it's going to be much. The biggest thing you notice at the restrictor-plate races with the smaller plates is, when you lift out of the throttle, the cars don't seem to recover as fast. Getting back up to top speed and RPM's just seems to take a little bit longer. In addition to changing the horsepower at places like Talladega and Daytona, the cowls and air boxes on these cars are so critical that it changes how the air gets in them. If speeds change and the engine is running a little bit different, I'd look for changes to be made in those areas during practice to try and get everything they can out of there engines."
When you saw the replay of the finish from the last time we came to Talladega, what were your thoughts?
"My first thoughts were that I should have been right up there because Brad Keselowski (winner) was right behind me the lap before. We had a huge run and were getting ready to pass Carl Edwards and all those guys. But, he hit me a little too hard off of Turn 2, knocked me sideways and I ended up getting out of the draft. That wreck was, obviously, big. When I saw Carl get up in the fence, my first thoughts were that I hoped everyone was okay. When he got out, I knew he was and, for the most part, the fans in the stands were, too."
When a wreck like that happens, do you concentrate on just getting through it and missing the debris?
"Your first concern is not getting caught up in the wreck and hitting any debris. I had a pretty good view of that wreck, and it was definitely wild. But, I think NASCAR is doing the best they can to make sure we're not going faster to cause more damage or harm by using the smaller restrictor plates."