Race Weekend Central

Casey Mears Driver Diary: Racing, Relaxing & Heckling 5-Time

Where do I start? Texas was a rough weekend for us. For some reason it seemed like the bigger tracks are hard for us for some reason. I know the MWR guys are working on more downforce at the bigger tracks and things like that. We just struggle on the mile-and-a-half, two-mile racetracks. It was a long weekend. We worked hard all day, just kind of grunted it out all day and ended up with an OK finish. We just weren’t really happy with our result there.

Talladega was OK. We didn’t qualify with the result we wanted to. We had a really good plan at the beginning. You really have to pick who you want to partner with there, and unfortunately we didn’t qualify so hot and we were in the back. We ended up getting together with Robby Gordon. For 98% of the race we worked really well together. They had a bad pit stop and we waited for them and we ended up going a lap down, and then we both worked with each other to get each other back on the lead lap. We had a good late-race charge to get to the front.

The plan was working great; we got up to about eighth or so with about two and a half, three laps to go, and I lost him. He ended up pulling out. He was behind me pushing and I don’t know what happened, I guess miscommunication or a bad decision, I’m not sure yet, but anyway, we didn’t stay hooked up, and ended up finishing in the 20s when we should have had a top 10.

It was frustrating. It was awesome at one point, because everything was working as planned, but then with three to go, it all kind of fell apart. I was happy with the car. We didn’t have the speed that we needed in qualifying, but in the race and in the draft, the car seemed to work really well. So we will pick somebody that wants to work with us the whole time next time.

We had a great weekend off. We weren’t going to go anywhere, but then we realized that it was one of Trish’s last off weekends that she was going to have before having our new little boy, so we decided to shoot down to a place in Georgia near the ocean and we had a great time. Samantha had a chance to hunt Easter Eggs and got to play on the beach, and Trish and I got to relax a little before everything gets crazy again.

Honestly, you race so often, when you get a week off, you almost feel guilty, like you need to be doing something. The last few years, I’ve realized that if you don’t take them when you have them, you don’t get them. So that’s why we decided to do something this last off weekend. It was definitely the right thing to do

Richmond was a challenge. We qualified well. Practice was a little bit of a struggle. The tire they had the last three or four races was great, and I was able to hit on it and be fast, and was really looking forward to going back to Richmond. But they brought a different tire, and it was very hard to get a hold of. Some guys did well and some guys really, really struggled. We were in the category of really struggling and then about halfway through the race we got pretty good, but things just didn’t go as planned.

We had a couple of strategy moves where we were going to try and gain some track position, and they didn’t go our way. We got three laps down before we knew it. If it would have played out it would have been great, but it didn’t play out the way we needed it to and kind of backfired on us and put us three laps down before we knew what was going on. We just had to battle our way through the rest of the race after that.

I went out for the pro-am golf tournament this week to watch. I played a few years ago, but this time I just went out there. We heckled Jimmie [Johnson] a little bit; he was playing. Trish went out with me. She’s getting to that point where it’s about two weeks before she’s due now, but she’s a trooper. She walked around with us and we had a good time. We talked to some friends and heckled some of the drivers. We saw David Ragan out there. I don’t know if he played earlier in the day or if he was just out there, but we talked for a little bit and it was good.

We got to go up to the GEICO office before the Richmond race and catch up with all the executives there, and signed autographs and played a Wii NASCAR game. It was a lot of fun with those guys up there, and it was good to catch up with them. It’s a great group of people. All the employees are a lot of fun. It’s a very, very professional yet somewhat laid-back organization and it always makes you feel really comfortable when you’re there.

I’m excited about the upcoming races. Things just haven’t gone in our direction the last few weekends. It seems like the weekends where we’ve been really strong and the car’s been running well, we’ve had some sort of issue that’s been unforeseen, and the other races we’ve just kind of struggled. We’re ready to get all that stuff behind us and just have a good solid weekend in Darlington. It’s one of my favorite tracks, so I’m looking forward to going there.

About the author

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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.

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