LOUDON, N.H. (September 25, 2016) - As Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team returned to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second and final time of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, a case of déjà vu plagued the No. 13 Chevrolet. Earlier this July, during the first race at the one-mile oval, Mears faced an ill-handling car and was relegated to a 27th-place finish. While yesterday's story was different and featured better overall speed, a lengthy green flag run for the opening 125 laps presented a challenge at a track where passing is at a premium. When the checkered flag waved, the team found themselves in the same finishing position, as Mears took the checkered flag in the 27th position.
Starting from 31st-place, Mears quickly passed four competitors in the opening 10 laps to take over the 27th position; but by lap 35, the handling started to dissipate. The veteran driver reported the GEICO Chevrolet was loose on entry and exit and tight in the center. Crew Chief Bootie Barker encouraged Mears to "keep doing what you're doing, man. Your lap times are good." Mears worked his way up to seventh-place before being called to pit road under green for four tires, fuel, and minor adjustments, placing him in the 28th position after the field cycled through the scheduled stops.
The long green flag run ensued, until lap 124 when the first caution slowed the pace with Mears in the 27th position. When the leaders came to pit road, the GEICO Racing machine took the wave around to regain a lap on the track. During the middle portion of the 300-lap race, the team continued to work on the handling of the GEICO Chevrolet, with Mears clocking lap times as fast as the top-12 competitors.
With ten laps remaining, the sixth and final caution was displayed for a multi-car accident directly in front of Mears and the nose of the No. 13 machine. Using his impressive driving skills, the California native missed the spinning No. 17 car and kept the GEICO Chevrolet damage-free. Once the debris was picked up, the field restarted with six laps to go, with Mears scored in the 30th position. In the closing laps, Mears made a mad dash and picked up three positions to cross the finish line in 27th-place.
"We were pretty good today and we were running top-15 lap times in the GEICO Chevy, but we just needed to be up there," Mears said. "The crew was solid throughout the weekend and we made a lot of changes and were able to find some speed. We're looking forward to getting to Dover since it is so close to the GEICO corporate office. It's always fun to host a lot of GEICO folks and I always enjoy my time with them. We appreciate all of their support."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Dover International Speedway for the running of the Citizen Soldier 400. Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet will hit the track on Friday, September 30th for opening practice at 10:00AM ET. Qualifying will follow at 3:40PM ET.
The green flag will wave shortly after 2:00PM ET on Sunday, October 2nd, with NBC Sports Network carrying live television coverage. Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio channel 90 will have the live radio broadcast.
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