DAYTONA RACE REPORT
Daytona Beach, FL (February 21, 2016) - The Daytona 500 is a race that stays circled on the Germain Racing calendar in their shop in Mooresville, NC. The team takes great pride in its restrictor-plate program and for good reason; their driver, Casey Mears, sat second in the point standings in the last five Daytona races heading into 2016 Speedweeks. The crafty veteran has morphed into a restrictor-plate specialist since taking over as the wheelman of the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS in August 2010.
On Thursday night in the Duel 150 qualifying races, Mears rolled off of the starting grid from the sixth position in race number two. He quickly moved into fourth on lap two and held the position for the entire evening before dashing by Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth to take over second place in the final laps. As he was on the bumper of leader Kyle Busch with just under two laps of racing to go, his fuel tank ran dry and left the GEICO Chevy in the 17th position in the finishing order. Consequently, Mears would be relegated to a 32nd place staring spot in Sunday's Daytona 500.
A sold out crowd was on hand to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field take the green flag for the 58thannual running of the Daytona 500. Mears took off from the outside of row 16, but wasted little time in making progress, collecting seven spots and moving up to 25th in the opening lap. He cracked the top-20 on lap 12 and by lap 42 he was running in the 13thposition. Seeming effortless in his journey to the front, lap 72 saw him move the No. 13 GEICO Chevy SS into the top-10.
All was well as Mears charged through the field and crew chief Bootie Barker provided the GEICO driver with affirmation of his deeds for the day, when on lap 92, he said, "You've got the speed, you're doing good; you're great." Barker was on point and Mears seemed like a man possessed as he pedaled his GEICO Chevy around the historic high-banked tri-oval gaining ground on the leaders.
The race had just cleared the halfway point when Mears radioed to Barker on lap 103 that he had a bad vibration and needed to get out of the draft. He quickly maneuvered his way to pit road and brought his GEICO Chevy to the attention of the Germain Racing pit crew under green flag conditions. He promptly received four fresh tires and returned to the racing surface one lap in arrears, in the 37th position. Barker and company would soon learn that the right rear tire was coming apart, so Mears was wise to exit the racetrack and receive service.
Misfortune would strike the team a second time when Mears brought the GEICO Chevy to pit road for a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 159. The crew serviced the car in expeditious fashion, but NASCAR would assess the team a drive-through penalty after they found Mears to be too fast as he was exiting pit road. This setback would leave the team struggling to stay just a single lap down to the field. In desperate need of a pair of cautions to assist them in returning to the lead lap, Mears hustled around the track patiently awaiting a chance to rejoin the leaders and make a run at the Daytona 500 trophy. Unfortunately, they would not receive the break they needed and when the checkered flag halted the field after 200-laps of racing, Mears and his GEICO Chevy were credited with a 32nd place finish.
"It was a tough outcome, for sure. We had a fast car and I was able to drive the GEICO Chevy up through the field and we were definitely going to be there at the end," Mears said after the race. "We just couldn't get the cautions that we needed to get back on the lead lap and that really hurt us. The guys on our GEICO team did a great job during Speedweeks and I'm proud of the speed we had and how well we performed in the Sprint Unlimited and then in the Duel 150's. We're looking forward to getting to Atlanta next week."
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, February 26th, at 11:00 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 5:45 PM (ET).
The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, February 28th, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:00 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Please visit www.GEICO.com to learn how you could save money on more than just auto insurance.
To learn more about the GEICO Racing program, please visit: www.caseymearsracing.com
You can also follow GEICO Racing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/geicoracing
To learn more about Germain Racing, please visit: www.germainracing.com