Late-Race Incident Erases Strong Showing for Mears at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Casey Mears and the No. 07 Jack Daniel's team led early and were in contention for a strong finish in Sunday's 500-miler at Talladega Superspeedway until being ...
Late-Race Incident Erases Strong Showing for Mears at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Casey Mears and the No. 07 Jack Daniel's team led early and were in contention for a strong finish in Sunday's 500-miler at Talladega Superspeedway until being collected in a late-race accident relegating them to finish 25th.
The less-than-desired result drops the Richard Childress Racing team one spot, to 20th, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship point standings with three races remaining in the 2009 season.
On Saturday, rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying, setting the 43-car field by points. Mears & Co. started on the inside of Row 10, in 19th under sunny skies. His RCR teammate, Kevin Harvick, would start directly behind him and be his 'pusher' in the early stages of the race.
The two Bakersfield, Calif., natives drafted their way to the front by lap 22, allowing Mears to lead the next 20 laps before making a green-flag pit stop on lap 42. However, following a four-tire and fuel stop, NASCAR deemed the 31-year old driver was too fast exiting pit road, forcing Mears back down pit lane for a pass-through penalty.
Mears would then race one lap down to the leaders until lap 107, when he was waved around the pace car under caution. Now back on the lead lap, he continued to show the No. 07 Chevy's drafting strength as Mears worked his way to second before a lap-139 caution.
Mears pitted and Mr. Jack's crew bolted on four tires and added fuel, returning the black and white Impala SS to the track in 14th. Doug Randolph, making debut as crew chief with the team, told his driver to save as much fuel as possible to make it to the end of the race.
Following a lap 186-incident involving several cars, including Harvick, NASCAR threw the red flag to clean up debris. Once the competitors fired their engines to get back to racing, Mears' Chevy began to sputter as a result of an empty fuel cell. Randolph summoned his driver to pit road for a quick splash of fuel, while under caution, to make it through the green, white and checkered finish.
One lap later, 13 cars, including the No. 07 Chevy, collided in the tri-oval coming to the white flag. Even though the Jack Daniel's machine was severely damaged, Mears was able to hobble his way across the finish line in 25th place.
Jamie McMurray earned his third career Sprint Cup Series victory, edging out Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano. Greg Biffle and Mears' RCR teammate Jeff Burton rounded out the remaining top-five finishers.
Mears' other teammates, Clint Bowyer and Harvick, finished 12th and 21st, respectively.
Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to Texas Motor Speedway.
"Our Jack Daniel's Chevrolet was fast today. (Kevin) Harvick pushed us to the front early on and allowed us to lead some laps. Then, we were hit with that speeding penalty, but the team never gave up. We were able to draft well and move up to the front easily, but we got caught in that last wreck. We'll take the positives from today and carry that momentum with us for next weekend."