Veteran USAC, Indy-car and NASCAR driver Casey Mears of Bakersfield, Calif. will compete in Saturday afternoon's USAC Western Sprint Car race at Tucson (AZ) Raceway Park. Mears, the son of Indianapolis 500 veteran Roger Mears and nephew...
Veteran USAC, Indy-car and NASCAR driver Casey Mears of Bakersfield, Calif. will compete in Saturday afternoon's USAC Western Sprint Car race at Tucson (AZ) Raceway Park.
Mears, the son of Indianapolis 500 veteran Roger Mears and nephew of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, became the youngest feature winner in USAC history when he captured a 1994 Russell Racing Triple Crown event at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield at age 16 years, five months and 15 days. He eventually went on to capture that year's Russell Racing championship and the 1995 Russell Pro Triple Crown title to become USAC's youngest-ever driving champion. It should be noted that Bobby Boone eclipsed Mears' record as the youngest USAC feature winner in 1997 at age 16 years, 2 months and 16 days in the USAC TQ Midget Car Series.
Casey will pilot the #3 NorCal Testing Chevy/Beast Sprint car owned by Ted Finkenbinder of Fairfield, Calif. Finkenbinder's cars have consistently finished at the front of the field, winning the 1998 Western Sprint Car owner's championship and finishing second in 1999 and third in 1997 and 2000.
"I've never run a Midget or a Sprint car," admits Mears, "so it'll be a totally new experience. My dad ran them in the 1970s and he tells me it was some of the most fun he ever had racing. It's a great opportunity to have a good time and I hope to get some pointers from series point leader Tony Hunt during Friday's Tucson practice session. Tony helped me land this ride and I guess I'll be leaning on him some for help in dialing the car in, etc." Mears also admits he's never raced at Tucson.
Mears will be joined in the Tucson "doubleheader" by Indy Racing League veterans Dan Drinan and J.J. Yeley. Drinan will drive the #12 Danny Barnes Sprint Car, while Yeley, USAC's 2001 Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Champion, will wheel the #91 Steve Lewis Beast Midget Car.
Mears failed to earn a starting berth at Indianapolis this year but competed in selected championship-car races and NASCAR events and has already signed a NASCAR Busch Series contract for the 2002 season with Welliver Jesel Motorsports. He finished eighth in the recent 500-mile championship-car race at California Speedway, subbing for the injured Alex Zanardi, and was ninth two weeks ago in an ARCA stock car race at Talladega, Ala. He also finished fourth in the 2000 championship-car 500 at California Speedway and followed a runnerup finish in the 1999 Indy Lights Championship with a 2000 Indy Lights victory at Houston, Texas.
Practice at Tucson Raceway Park Saturday begins at 9:15 am and the first race is at 1 pm. A 40-lap Midget Car and 40-lap Sprint Car feature follow complete preliminaries for each series on the 3/8-mile paved oval.