RIDGEWAY, Va. (April 4, 2016) - After a three-week stint on the west coast and a well-deserved weekend off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returned to the east coast and short track racing action at the historic Martinsville Speedway. Casey Mears and Germain Racing had high hopes of building off their solid performance in California; however a late-race green flag pit stop for a loose wheel would leave the GEICO team with a 31st-place finish.

"Today was frustrating to say the least," said Mears after the 500-lap race. "Our GEICO Chevrolet was strong most of the weekend and into the first run of the race. But once we got shuffled out of position and got back in the field, the car became way too loose and wouldn't drive off the corner. This team battled hard all race long but we have a lot of work to do from pit road to handling. We will just learn from this one and move on Texas. The great part about this sport is there is always next week to turn it around."

After advancing to the second round in qualifying on Friday, Mears was fast enough to nab the 18thstarting position for Sunday's STP 500.

When the race went green, Mears quickly had the GEICO Chevrolet inside the top-15 within the opening five laps on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately on lap 25, the Bakersfield, California native was shuffled to the outside lane and freight-trained by the bottom single-file line of competitors. Over the course of 20 laps, Mears fell from the 14th position to 33rd-place, while also fighting a loose handling condition with no drive off the corner, hindering his ability to gain maximum speed on the straightaway.

As the first caution flew on lap 92, crew chief Bootie Barker called his driver to pit road for fresh tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments. A loose right front wheel forced Mears back to pit road before returning to racing action.

Mears reassured his GEICO team each set of adjustments was improving the handling, but with uncharacteristically few cautions at the .526-mile paperclip shaped track, the veteran had to battle hard for a spot back inside the top-25, which he achieved by lap 312. With less than 50 laps remaining, what had been a turbulent outing looked to turn into a solid finish. However, on lap 480, another right-front loose wheel forced Mears to pit road under green flag conditions for right-side tires, relegating the team to a 31st-place finish.

The Sprint Cup Series now heads to the Lone Star State for night racing in Fort Worth, Texas. Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday, April 7th for opening practice at 5:30PM ET. Qualifying will take place a day later at 2:45PM ET.

The Duck Commander 500 will take place on Saturday, April 9th, with FOX carrying live television coverage beginning at 6PM CT. The Performance Racing Network (PRN) and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio channel 90 will also have the live radio broadcast.

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