Watkins Glen: Mears/Pruett race report

Second Place finish for Team Target at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2003) --- At the second road-course race of the NASCAR Winston Cup season, Team Target was seriously in the hunt for the win in the Sirius at The Glen this ...

Second Place finish for Team Target at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2003) --- At the second road-course race of the NASCAR Winston Cup season, Team Target was seriously in the hunt for the win in the Sirius at The Glen this Sunday.

Road course specialist Scott Pruett finished second in his No. 39 Target Dodge. Pruett, who ran a second car for Team Target this weekend, started the race in 28th position but made his way to the front quickly. Pruett had a good car all day and the team used great pit strategy to get him to the front.

"We had a different pit strategy than everybody else, and it all predicated on how many yellows we got at the start of the race," Pruett said. "We got enough yellows where we thought we were going to take a gamble. We're not running for points, so we could afford to take gambles. That's exactly what we did."

A key moment in the race came on lap 51 when crew chief Matt Chambers called Pruett into pit road for their last pit stop of the day. The team pitted right as the caution flag flew catching the leaders still on the track with one more stop to complete. The No. 39 Target Dodge was in key position to gain great ground on the field but they still needed another caution period to conserve fuel.

As Pruett moved up from his 16th place restart to the top-5 within those last 40 laps, a caution flew on lap 75 and the team was safe from running out of fuel. On the restart with 11 laps to go, Pruett was in third position behind race leader Robby Gordon and second place runner Kevin Harvick. In Turn 1 of the restart, Pruett made a great move inside Harvick to pick up the second place spot.

"I think Harvick missed a shift on final restart," said Pruett. "I got a run on him on the inside and we both went in deep. That was that. "

Pruett went on to finish second - Target's best finish of the season and his career-best NASCAR Winston Cup finish in 33 career races.

"We had a great car at Sears Point, and of course we got knocked out," Pruett said. "We had a great car here last year and couldn't play it out. We had a great car here this year, and we got the most out of it this year. We got the most out of it that we could get. Casey Mears had a great run today, and he did a great job. He didn't get the finish he deserved out of it, but he will."

During the race, Pruett was able to get out front to lead nine laps earning $225 for Target House and St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Team Target is proud to donate $5,000 for each win, $1,000 for each pole and $25 for each lap led to the worthwhile organization.

Casey Mears looked very comfortable in his No. 41 Target Dodge in his first race at Watkins Glen International. Mears was the highest Ganassi qualifier as he started the race in 12th position. He started off the race strong by jumping into the top-10 and he never fell out of the top-20 for the entire day.

Using great pit strategy, Mears was in the top-5 racing with teammate Pruett at the end of the race. But with nine laps to go, Mears was racing in fifth position when he lost control of his car in Turn 1 and went off-course into the sand pit. He fell back to 22nd place but the bad luck does not end there.

During the last lap of the race, Mears ran out of fuel and drove through a section of the racetrack that is not allowed. He was penalized for the move and relegated to a 32nd place finish.

"I made a big mistake, but I learned a ton today," Mears said after the race. "I'm really looking forward to coming back. Scott Pruett helped me a lot at the test and he gave me some pointers before the race. He helped me with everything, from where he enters, where he exits, where he brakes. Where to be careful, from top to bottom he helped me out. I really appreciate him being there today. We can run strong, and we know we can win races. It's just a matter of putting it all together. We had a great run today. I just messed up. Everything was going well, but I just made a little mistake and that's the difference in a top five and wherever we ended up."

Ganassi teammates Jamie McMurray and Sterling Marlin finished 23rd and 43rd respectively.

Casey Mears and Team Target head to Michigan International Speedway next weekend for the Michigan 400 on August 17, 2003.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Casey Mears , Scott Pruett , Jamie McMurray