_Casey Mears, driver of the No. 13 GEICO Toyota for the Cup Series does a monthly diary for Frontstretch.com. Here’s his latest entry for May and June, starting with Mother’s Day weekend and Darlington’s Southern 500._
Gosh, Darlington was a long time ago! We were running OK. We were decent – we probably would have been about 18th or so. That wasn’t exactly where we wanted to be, but then on a restart, I had to check up and David Reutimann got into the back of me. I just went downhill from there. We were actually running good – I can’t remember what lap it was, but probably midway through the race and all of a sudden Reutimann got into the back of us and we ended up tearing up the left side of the car. We were just off the pace from there. The car got really loose into the corners because of the damage, and we ended up having to just ride the rest of the race out, unfortunately. I was pretty happy with the way the car was. It wasn’t too bad. We’ve been trying to crack that top 20, and I think that would have been one of the races where we did it, but we ended up with some damage that kind of dictated the rest of the night.
I was really happy with the way the car drove at Dover. We did a good job from when we went there last year and we were way off, really struggling. Bootie and the guys did a good job, brought a good car back. It was OK. We hung in there all day. The track really rubbered up on the bottom and it was giving a lot of guys some grief. We were able to capitalize on that a little bit, but for the most part it was just kind of one of those days where we hung in there again.
It’s always fun to go do the All-Star Showdown. We didn’t make it into the All-Star Race itself, but the Showdown is always fun, just because you’re able to not worry about different things. You’re in a little bit of a different position than some of the bigger teams when you know you’ve got plenty of cars and all that kind of stuff. We looked it as a great opportunity to try to get into the All-Star Race. We also looked at it as a good test for Charlotte, for the 600. We wanted to run hard, but at the same time, if we weren’t in a position inside the top three or five towards the end of the race, we knew we needed to bring that car home because it was the one we wanted to run in the 600. We had a solid day. We ended up too tight on the long run. When we first took off on new tires, the car worked really well but we just struggled with being too tight in that race. With it being so short, if you don’t get it right, you don’t get a whole lot of opportunity to fix it.
The Coca-Cola 600 was actually turning out pretty well. I was happy again with the car; the Showdown was a great opportunity to get some ideas of what we wanted to do in the 600, and we definitely had a better car in the 600 than we did in the Showdown! We were doing well, happy with our performance, and things were going good. It was another one of those days where I thought we were going to get another top-20 finish. Ironically, the same exact thing happened at Charlotte that happened at Dover. The 09, Landon Cassill, got into the back of me and it knocked the left rear quarter panel into the tire. It ended up cutting down the tire and tore up the car. The whole left side of the car was torn up. It actually tore out all the cool box hoses and all the wiring for my drink bottle. So it went from being a good day to one of the hotter days I’ve ever had. It just ripped all that stuff out and the guys did a very good job repairing it as best they could and keeping us on the lead lap. Unfortunately, when we went back out, the car just didn’t perform as well, obviously, as when it was new. Again, we hung in there. I think we ended up just one lap down after 600 miles. Unfortunately, we had that issue; otherwise, I think we still would have been on the lead lap right with everybody. We’re showing signs of improvement, and that was probably the best car that the guys have built for me. It drove really well through the corners, so we’re making headway; we’re just not getting the results with the small issues that have been happening.
It’s really good at home. We’re really excited to have Hayden. Everything went well. He’s a healthy little boy, and Trish is doing good, Samantha’s doing really well with him. She loves him. She tells him how cute he is, and she wants to help. We’re a little surprised. I’m sure as he gets older and starts trying to ride her toys and stuff she might feel different, but right now she thinks he’s pretty cute! I’m looking forward to going to Pocono. Any time we get the chance to go racing again, I get excited. But there’s not much else. Really, if I haven’t been at the shop or at the racetrack, I’ve been doing full-time family stuff. I really enjoy the three or four days a week that I get to just hang out with Trish and the kids, and this new little guy is awesome! I’ve just been spending a lot of time with them lately.
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