BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 17, 2016) - Bristol Motor Speedway, proclaimed as the World's Fastest Half-Mile, is a short-track that drivers either love or love to hate, as the high banks can cause havoc and tempers to flare at a moment's notice. As the Sprint Cup Series entered the race weekend in the Tennessee Mountains, Casey Mears and his Germain Racing team were optimistic.
After consistently running inside the top-20 for the first half of the 500-lap race, Mears received contact from a fellow competitor on lap 340, sending the GEICO Chevrolet spinning down the embankment, where he made a masterful save and avoided oncoming racecars. Despite the unseen damage underneath the car hindering the handling in the final stages, Mears crossed the finish line in the 24th position.
"We battled really hard today," said Mears after the 500-lap race. "I felt our GEICO Chevrolet was pretty good all weekend leading up to the race and then especially on that first run. It's frustrating because we deserved a better finish but after that spin, something was off with the car; whether it was the tow or another issue, we will figure it out once we are back at the shop. We never gave up though which is a credit to this team. I'm looking forward to hitting the track in Richmond."
Mears qualified in the 16th position and quickly moved the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet up three spots into 13th-place within the opening 15 laps on Sunday afternoon. As the first caution flew on lap 53, Mears found himself in the 12th position. The Bakersfield, California native would consistently run inside the top-15 for the initial 95 laps.
The handling began to fade by lap 117, when Mears radioed the car was "bouncing like a pogo stick" while still running directly outside the top-20. With the ability to play strategy on pit road, crew chief Bootie Barker called his driver to pit road for left side tires only, allowing Mears to restart 13th on lap 194. The strategic call allowed Mears to stay inside the top-20, although tightening up the handling on the GEICO machine.
Misfortune arrived on lap 340, as Mears received contact from another competitor, sending the GEICO Chevrolet spinning down the 24-degree embankment. However, the veteran driver made a dirt-tracking slide save to forego making contact with the walls or fellow cars. "I'm glad we aren't torn up too bad and still have time to get back up there," radioed Mears before returning to racing action from the 27th position. Despite not seeing any cosmetic damage, Mears felt something off underneath the car as the subsequent green flag run continued. The Germain Racing team battled through the final 100 laps and Mears was able to cross the finish line just behind his close friend Jimmie Johnson, in the 24th position.
The Sprint Cup Series now heads to Richmond International Raceway in Virginia for another short track racing event. Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track on Friday, April 22nd for opening practice at 11:00AM ET. Qualifying will follow at 4:15PM ET.
The 400-lap race will take place on Sunday, April 24th, with FOX carrying live television coverage beginning at 1PM ET. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio channel 90 will also have the live radio broadcast.
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