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2013 Ride: No. 13 Germain Racing Ford
2013 Primary Sponsor: GEICO / Valvoline NextGen (2 races)
2013 Owner: Bob Germain
2013 Crew Chief: “Bootie” Barker
Stats: 36 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 1 top 10, 3 DNFs, 24th in driver points.
Best Finish: 9th – Daytona II.
Average Start: 26.9.
Average Finish: 24.2.
2013 Team Ranking: 1st of 1. Mears drives for the single-car Germain Racing operation.
High Point: Daytona, July. Mears is an excellent restrictor plate racer and has been in the running for top-10 or better finishes at nearly every plate race he’s run in the last two or three years, only to get caught up in someone else’s on-track problems. He was dominant in his Gatorade Duel in February before getting caught in a multi-car crash and ran well in the Daytona 500 until the same thing happened, so his finish in the summer race shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Low Point: Darlington. Mears and Company had a deceptively strong spring in 2013, and the finishes alone don’t tell the story. Mears had some very solid runs, at one point climbing as high as 17th in driver points, and was looking for a good night with the Lady in Black after posting solid speeds all weekend long. Unfortunately for Mears, it was a repeat of an all-too-familiar story last year, and he was caught in a wreck not of his making, which ended his night early, after running for a top-20 finish at a track where his team wasn’t expected to perform at all.
Summary: Overall, this team had a decent season, though it started better than it ended as Mears and Barker seemed to get an early jump on the competition with the Gen-6 racecar, which was erased later in the season as other teams with more money caught and surpassed the small teams who had done their homework. Still, the team should count the year as an overall success, scoring its first top-10 finish ever not on a road course. Most importantly, though, the team didn’t start and park during any races this time around after having to pull in early several times in 2012. When they were able to run to the finish every week, they were strong among their small-team peers. Mears improved his average finish but three positions over 2012 and was the best in points among the small-team drivers when the season was over. And because of that, the right people noticed…
2014 Outlook: And because the right people noticed Mears’ 2013 performance, the team was able to form a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, similar to the one that took Furniture Row Racing from the small team ranks in 2012 to a Chase berth in 2013. While it’s unlikely that you’ll see Mears in the Chase, the move puts the team more in line with teams like the No. 43 and 9 of Richard Petty Motorsports, and Mears is certainly capable of similar results-he’s performed well in decent equipment and he should post a few top-10 and top-15 finishes, particularly on the restrictor plate tracks, where he has always excelled. If he can stay out of other people’s trouble, a win isn’t out of the question at Daytona or Talladega. In general, though, expect some stronger races, a handful of very good runs, and a points finish somewhere in the range of 20th place-a big improvement over 2013, but with so many good teams, not a giant step into NASCAR’s elite.
2012 Frontstretch.com Grade: C+.
2013 Grade: B-. I said a year ago that Mears needed at least one top-10 finish to jump to the B range this year, and he did that, along with a handful of other very strong races. Mears had a few performances above expectations last year, and while his season wouldn’t be above average for a driver for a bigger organization, Mears’ season was admirable among his actual peers.
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