By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
It wasn’t an easy race by any stretch for Casey Mears and his Germain Racing team, but they dug deep and were able to record a top-15 finish this past Sunday in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As a result of his great weekend, Mears is the feature of our Keeping up with the underdogs series this week.
Mears rolled off of the grid from the 15th position, his second consecutive top-15 starting spot to start 2016, and thanks to a fast car he maintained a top-20 position all afternoon.
With a seemingly never ending green flag run to start the race, crew chief Bootie Barker opted not to make any Earth-shattering changes to the race car under any of the five green flag pit stops before the first caution of the race at lap 210.
Mears suffered a vibration on his next-to-last run of the day, but he would still find himself in 16th on the final lap.
With some great driving, Mears knifed past two more competitors, as a melee ensued on the backstretch during the green-white-checkered finish, to finish 14th.
“The GEICO Racing team worked hard all weekend and we were rewarded with a solid finish today,” said Mears. “I didn’t think we would go caution-free for as long as we did in the beginning, but our car was actually pretty good during that stretch. The clean air during the stops helped our car stay loose with the air on the nose. Once we had to restart in the traffic, the car would get tight. But overall, this is a great way to start the season and hopefully we continue to build off this.”
Mears now sits 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings, and he heads to another 1.5-mile speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Mears has three top-10 and five top-15 finshes in his career at sin city, but he has had awful luck at this track since 2009. Mears will look to snap a streak of six consecutive 25th-place-or-worse finishes at Vegas.
Image: Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing