BUSCH: Indianapolis: Casey Mears preview

Yet another Mears races in Indianapolis. CHARLOTTE, N.C.--- There's a certain mystique that exists between the Mears' family and racing in Indianapolis. For 15 consecutive years at least one member of the Mears family competed in the...

Yet another Mears races in Indianapolis.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--- There's a certain mystique that exists between the Mears' family and racing in Indianapolis. For 15 consecutive years at least one member of the Mears family competed in the Indianapolis 500 and on four occasions the acclaimed race was won by Casey's uncle Rick. Brothers Rick and Roger Mears both competed in the 500-miler in 1982 and '83.

For Casey, the latest generation of the Mears clan, watching members of his family compete on Memorial Day weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a special place in his heart.

"I didn't really attend the 500 as much as everyone might think because a lot of times I would be with my dad while he was off racing somewhere else or I was racing myself," said Mears. "But we always assembled as much of our family as we could to watch qualifying and the race on Sunday."

The younger Mears, driver of the No. 66 Phillips 66 Dodge in the NASCAR Busch Series made the switch to stock cars this season after competing primarily in the open-wheel divisions for the last five seasons. For some it may seem strange to see the younger Mears running in cars with fenders on them. After all, Mears' uncle Rick is touted as one of the best Indy Car drivers of all-time while his dad Roger spent several seasons driving Indy Cars, but made his mark in the off-road divisions.

"I'm really looking forward to racing in Indianapolis again," said Mears. "Indianapolis is where all drivers hope to compete one day whether it be in an Indy Car or stock car. Indianapolis is a great place and my family has a lot of history there, particularly at the speedway.

"Besides my attempt to qualify at Indy for the '500' a couple of years ago, my most memorable racing moment from May was in 1991 when my uncle Rick passed Michael Andretti on the outside in turn four with ten laps remaining. He won the race and it was awesome."

The last time Mears was in Indianapolis to race was in 2001 when he attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Mears' attempt to make the race came right down to the wire on 'Bump Day', but unfortunately he didn't make the field.

But his return to Indianapolis will be in a much different car at a much different track. Mears will race August 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the NASCAR Busch Series race. The .686-mile oval is a different animal compared to the 2.5-mile Brickyard just down the road, but Casey realizes both tracks are important to racers.

"Just because I'm competing in the Busch Series right now doesn't mean I have given up on my dream of competing in the Indy 500," Mears said. "My focus right now is stock cars, but running the Indy 500 is still a lifelong dream of mine.

"You can't argue NASCAR's popularity in North America right now. The decision I made to join the Busch Series was all about my future. I had an opportunity with a good organization in Team Jesel and I took it."

So far this season, Mears has made the transition from open-wheel racing to NASCAR with few problems, even though he's never been to most of the tracks at which the series competes, including IRP. He did visit the track and was able to take a few laps during a media event in July.

"People always say IRP is a great place to watch a Busch Series race," said Mears. "Hopefully we can have a good run and I will be able to enjoy it as a driver."

The Mears name is well known in Indianapolis and the open-wheel record books. Now another member of the "Mears Gang" looks to write his own chapter starting with the Kroger 200 at IRP.

-jm-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Casey Mears , Michael Andretti , Roger Mears