this week in nascar

by Monte Dutton

Casey Mears Still Hopes to Fulfill Potential

Nothing ever seems to work out for Casey Mears, who has thus far been unable to fulfill his potential and the legacy of his famous family.

Mears’ uncle, Rick Mears, won the Indianapolis 500 four times. His father, Roger, raced at Indy and was an off-road racer of great renown. Casey, after racing in CART, made a switch to stock cars and won an ARCA race in 2003 at Michigan.

Since making the move to NASCAR, Mears has competed for three teams: Ganassi (now Earnhardt Ganassi) 2003-06, Hendrick Motorsports 2007-08 and Richard Childress Racing beginning this year. His career-best points finish was 14th with Ganassi in 2006.

A 15th by Monte Dutton -place finish in the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway left Mears ranked

19th in the Sprint Cup standings. He is 69 points behind Jeff Burton and 72 ahead of rookie Joey Logano.

“It was a good day for the Jack Daniel’s [his sponsor] team, but I think we were better than where we ended up,” said Mears after the Kansas race. “At times, our Chevrolet showed speeds comparable to guys in the top five and top 10, and I felt that’s where we should’ve finished.

“We were a little too tight and lost some spots there at end, but our program definitely shows signs of improvement. We’ll try to build on this 15 th -place finish next weekend.”

Mears’ lone Cup victory to date occurred in one of NASCAR’s signature races, the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where he crossed the finish line first on May 27, 2007. He also finished second in the 2006 Daytona 500 and won the pole at Indianapolis in 2004.

“My most memorable experience… is kind of a toss-up between sitting on the pole at Indy and winning at Charlotte,” said Mears. “I think Charlotte is probably the biggest memory that I have right now in racing. That’s my fondest memory. At the same time, it was very exciting to sit on the pole at Indy just because of my family’s background there and history. To do that was a lot of fun. It just felt like the right place, right time. So between those two are probably my two fondest memories in racing at the moment.”

Mears’ best finish this season, at least so far, was a sixth at Michigan in August. Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week ( features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at

(c) 2009 King Features Syndicate

Despite his racing bloodlines, Casey Mears has struggled mightily among his Cup peers. (John Clark/NASCAR This Week photo)