Race Weekend Central

Casey Mears Driver Diary: Improvement & the Big Picture

We spent most of the off week in Phoenix. We went golfing a little. Trisha watched me play golf because she’s pregnant. But mostly we just hung out and relaxed, which was really good. It was nice to spend some time at home for a change.

Then we went to Bristol. In qualifying, the No. 36 car went out in front of us and laid oil down on the track, and then we came out and ran a slow lap because of it. We might have missed the race, but the No. 32 came out after us and he got in the oil too. The race was frustrating because we had some kind of problem with the car that we still haven’t been able to diagnose. If just kept cutting off. We ended up running really well, but with the fuel problem we went several laps down trying to fix it.

It’s probably more frustrating to have a slow car (than one that is competitive but has mechanical problems). It’s hard to say because they’re both bad days and it depends on the side of the coin you want to look at. They’re both just as disappointing, but at the end of the day if you at least know you had a fast racecar, you have something to return with, or know that you’re doing things right. When you leave not knowing what your issue was, that’s when it’s more difficult for sure.

At Fontana, we just couldn’t get the car the way we wanted it. It was just slow. It was handling, everything. We just missed it on the setup.

We’re excited this week (at Martinsville). After all the stuff that we’ve been through, missing the race at Daytona then the fuel problem at Bristol, we’re still able to make it inside the points. To show up here inside the Top 35 and not have that worry of going home is definitely big. I think that as we continue on here, we’ve got a really good racecar. Last time we were here at Martinsville, we were in start-and-park mode, unfortunately, but we ran really well and had a good racecar.

I’m looking forward to the race. I feel better about how the car is in race trim than what it was in qualifying trim. We put in a solid lap in qualifying but it’s not going to put us where we want as far as starting position, but as far as the race, we should be fine. (Editor’s note: Casey Mears was running inside the top 20 at Martinsville when tire and transmission problems relegated him to a 36th-place finish, which dropped the No. 13 team to 37th in owner standings. They’ll attempt to get back into the Top 35 at Texas.)

When I had time in Indy cars to think about the little different superstitions and ways of doing things the same on race day, I kind of had a set routine. Every weekend is different now. All the schedules are different depending on when the race starts and when the drivers’ meeting is and all that stuff. I just get up and eat breakfast, do appearances if I’ve got them and then go to the drivers’ meeting and sometimes stick around for the chapel service if I have time.

“Then I just grab something to eat and go racing. They pretty much make your schedule and preparation. I do try to drink a lot of fluids, things like that, make sure – you get hot inside these cars – that I don’t get dehydrated, but that’s about it.

We’re looking forward to having our new baby. Trisha’s due at the end of May. She’s doing really well and everything seems to be A-OK so far. It’s exciting. We’re ready for that. There are a lot of good things happening right now. The team has really rallied around the fact that we’re running better.

We’re showing a lot of potential. I know there have been some good meetings with some sponsors and there’s a big push right now to do whatever we need to do to run the whole year to maintain our points situation for next year. There are a lot of good things happening behind the scenes. Hopefully that develops like we want it to.

I think that we’ve seen a lot of progress this year and the end of last year toward what our potential is. I think that Bob and Steve Germain see that and see what we’re capable of doing if we get things right. Their commitment level there is to try to run the whole season. At the end of the day, obviously we’re going to need funding to do that, but they’ve talked about doing whatever they have to do to make it happen as well.

The last thing we want to do is do any more start-and-parks for the remainder of the year. If we have to do it, we will, but there’s a huge push to try to secure the funding to do it properly.

It’s not fun at all to start-and-park. Strictly from a racing standpoint, obviously, it’s terrible-it’s not fun at all. But when you start looking at it from the racing business side of things, it makes sense if you’re a little bit underfunded to at least start-and-park because it allows you to still come to the track on Thursdays and Fridays and you practice, you qualify, you go through all the motions.

You get all the current tire data, you develop a setup. You have some notes for when you come back. It’s definitely more beneficial to do that than to not (race at all). But as a racer, your heart gets broken when you have to pull in. That’s been a huge battle in my mind to have to settle for doing that at times, but at the end of the day it’s better for the organization to do that rather than to never come at all.

About the author

Img 1723

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via