Mears Banking On Success

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Talladega Superspeedway is where it all started for Casey Mears’ stock car career.

Back in 2001, Mears made his first stock car start in a car fielded by Welliver-Jesel Motorsports in the ARCA RE/MAX Series race at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. He went on to finish ninth in that event, but more importantly it propelled him to where he is today - competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

However, since making the move to Hendrick Motorsports to drive the No. 25 National Guard Chevrolet at the beginning of the 2007 season, Mears has endured nothing but bad luck, capturing only one top-10 finish.

Mears’ most recent run at Phoenix International Raceway saw one of his best cars fall victim to an accident not of his doing. The 37th-place result at PIR - his fourth finish of 30th or worse in 2007 - dropped him three spots to the precarious 35th slot in the owner point standings.

“That race really hurt because we had such a great car - a top 10, probably a top-five car, and we all knew it,” Mears said. “We gained about five spots in first 10 laps, I think. But we got caught up in somebody else's mistake and had nowhere to go. I couldn't believe it - our luck has been awful lately.”

This weekend’s trip to Talladega for the Aaron’s 499 could be the perfect medicine for Mears and the No. 25 Team. After all, he will be climbing into the same car (chassis No. 372) that won last fall at Talladega with driver Brian Vickers.

In his eight previous starts at the track with Chip Ganassi Racing, Mears finished in the top 10 twice, with a pair of eighth-place finishes in 2004.

“We're looking forward to racing at Talladega,” said Mears, who finished 20th in the first restrictor-plate race of the season at Daytona. "I feel a lot more comfortable in the draft than I did when I first started racing there, and I'm able to relax and focus on my job instead of constantly worrying about when a big wreck might happen."

If Mears happens to be the lucky one to pull into Gatorade Victory Lane on Sunday he will be the third Hendrick driver to do so in the No. 25 car at Talladega, joining Ken Schrader and Vickers for that honor.

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