Driver of the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet gets into the 43-car field Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Buy Daytona 500 gear RELATED: Daytona 500 starting lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Casey Mears' hopes for making his 11th Daytona 500 start turned murky in a cloud of smoke early during Thursday night's Budweiser Duels. When the smoke lifted from all the crashes in both 150-mile qualifiers, Mears' murky future became clear -- he's in. Mears was among the biggest names in limbo for the 43-car field in Sunday's Great American Race (1 p.m. ET, FOX), the season opener for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Engine failure after just 17 laps in the opening 60-lap race sidelined the 36-year-old veteran, who finished 26th in last year's final standings. "I don't have any thoughts right now other than everything's bad," a dejected Mears said after his early exit. "The nature of this place has been really good to us in the past, and obviously when something like this happens you just feel so helpless. It's really out of your control. You want a fighting chance." Those left on the outside of the elite group of 43: Alex Bowman, Jeb Burton, Ron Hornaday Jr., Justin Marks, Brian Scott and Josh Wise -- each of whom endured their own brand of heartache on a cold Thursday night in Florida. After the first race, Mears joined AJ Allmendinger, Johnny Sauter and others in tense moments of scoreboard-watching in the second Duel race, waiting to see if their body of work in Speedweeks would be enough to make the main event. Allmendinger, a qualifier for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs last year, wound up with enough stature in the team owner points to advance; Sauter -- 12th in Sunday's qualifying (after Hamlin's time was disallowed), but with a team 41st in owner points last season -- made the race on the basis of his qualifying speed. WATCH: Sauter, Allmendinger involved in wreck Mears was mired in the thick of a dense pack with the opening 60-lap qualifier barely a quarter of the way in, riding the high line in hopes of clinching a starting berth. Just past the start-finish line, the engine in the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet went south with a hole in the oil pan, the car smoking steadily as he lost power. By the time the car was pushed back to the garage, Mears seemed resigned to going home early though two-thirds of the race remained. He wound up with a last-place result in the 25-car field. With just a 28th-fastest lap from last Sunday's qualifying and the team's 26th-place position in the 2014 standings to fall back on, it was close to not being enough. "There's so many things that are so cool about this race track, yet there's so many things that are out of your control," Mears said. "When we have something like this happen, it's difficult any way it happens. It doesn't look good, obviously. I'm guessing we're going home unless something major happens in the second race or something happens in this one. I don't even know what to say. It just rips your heart out. "We're so good at these places, yet these are the places that anything can happen, and anything happened tonight." Sauter took the worst of his collision with Allmendinger in the 2.5-mile track's trioval, despite taking it easy in the first half of the race. "I just was riding along on the top side there, just trying to mind my own business," Sauter said. "We were in a tight spot there going back to qualifying, if you're in on speed or not. We deliberated about it all week, just do we try to be conservative, do we try to race. I thought I was doing everything right, just hanging out in the top groove." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Casey Mears has engine failure during Duel 1 of the Budweiser Duel at Daytona.
A look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2014) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 (6 p.m. ET on FOX). CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.3 · Average Running Position of 15.3, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 88.7, eighth-best · 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.378 mph, ninth-fastest · 3,918 Laps in the Top 15 (54.6%), ninth-most · 700 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), ninth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Driver Rating of 84.4, 12th-best · 216 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 3,833 Laps in the Top 15 (53.4%), 10th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Skittles Toyota) · 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.1 · Average Running Position of 9.8, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.7, second-best · 478 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.219 mph, second-fastest · 5,624 Laps in the Top 15 (78.4%), second-most · 1,007 Quality Passes, second-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Subway Toyota) · Six top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.3 · Average Running Position of 14.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 89.6, seventh-best · 1,671 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 4,450 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), seventh-most · 848 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Five wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s; nine poles · Average finish of 15.5 · Average Running Position of 14.2, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, sixth-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.644 mph, third-fastest · 4,562 Laps in the Top 15 (63.6%), sixth-most · 826 Quality Passes, sixth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.5 · Average Running Position of 12.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.8, fifth-best · 239 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.433 mph, sixth-fastest · 4,837 Laps in the Top 15 (71.4%), third-most · 791 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · Three wins, five top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 · Average Running Position of 16.4, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.7, 11th-best · 214 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,609 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · 4,254 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), eighth-most · 743 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 11.4 · Series-best Average Running Position of 7.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 111.6 · Series-high 688 Fastest Laps Run · 1,444 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.298 mph · Series-high 6,277 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) · Series-high 1,031 Quality Passes Kasey Kahne (No. 5 LIFTMASTER Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.5 · Average Running Position of 11.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 100.8, third-best · 667 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 1,642 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.601 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,725 Laps in the Top 15 (65.9%), fourth-most · 874 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 D E WALT Toyota) · Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 13.8, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.5, fourth-best · 379 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,531 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.531 mph, fifth-fastest · 4,680 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2%), fifth-most · 854 Quality Passes, fourth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.7 · Average Running Position of 14.6, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 86.5, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.408 mph, eighth-fastest Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 10.0 · Average Running Position of 14.0, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 88.4, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.344 mph, 11th-fastest The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 0 3 5 11 1 15.8 84.7 2 Martin Truex Jr . 19 0 0 0 4 0 18.5 77.0 3 Jimmie Johnson 27 4 7 13 17 4 11.4 111.6 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 4 7 0 10.0 88.4 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 81.1 6 Brad Keselowski 11 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 86.5 7 Matt Kenseth 31 0 2 9 16 5 13.6 95.5 8 Jamie McMurray 25 0 2 7 10 3 16.6 80.0 9 Jeff Gordon 44 9 5 17 24 10 15.5 91.6 10 Kasey Kahne 22 0 4 9 13 1 11.5 100.8 11 Aric Almirola 6 1 0 0 0 1 19.5 74.3 12 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 2 2 22.9 66.1 13 Ryan Newman 28 9 0 4 11 5 18.5 79.0 14 Kurt Busch 29 0 1 6 7 4 19.4 84.4 15 Denny Hamlin 19 1 0 4 11 1 13.5 92.8 16 Clint Bowyer 18 0 1 2 5 1 17.1 82.0 * – Based on last 19 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 12 of 36 (05-24-15) Track Size : 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 5 degrees Frontstretch Length : 1,980 feet Backstretch Length : 1,500 feet Race Length : 400 laps / 600 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ........................ 111.6 Kyle Busch ............................... 106.7 Kasey Kahne ............................. 100.8 Matt Kenseth .............................. 95.5 Denny Hamlin ............................. 92.8 Jeff Gordon ................................ 91.6 Carl Edwards .............................. 89.6 Greg Biffle .................................. 88.7 Joey Logano .............................. 88.4 Brad Keselowski ......................... 86.5 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 194.911 mph, 27.705 secs. 05-22-14 2014 race winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 145.484 mph, (04:07:27), 05-25-14 Track qualifying record: Kurt Busch , Chevrolet 198.771 mph, 27.167 secs. 10-09-14 Track race (600 miles) record: Kasey Kahne , Chevrolet 155.687 mph, (03:51:14), 05-27-12 At Charlotte Motor Speedway : History · Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. · The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson . · The track was repaved midseason in 1994. · The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. · The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook · There have been 112 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). · 527 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 378 in more than one. 441 drivers have competed in the Coca-Cola 600 ; 287 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts; followed by Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart with 31. Richard Petty and Bill Elliott have made the most Coca-Cola 600 starts with 31 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in 600 starts with 22. · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. · 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. · David Pearson and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles with six each; followed by Jeff Gordon with five. · 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. · Jeff Gordon won five straight Coca-Cola 600 poles at Charlotte between 1994 and 1998. · Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). · Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). · 45 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins including four Coca-Cola 600 wins - 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014. · 30 different drivers have won the Coca-Cola 600 , led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with five; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four; followed by teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne with three each. · Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (2004 and 2005 sweeps). · A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. · Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). · Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). · Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Chevrolet also has the most Coca-Cola 600 wins at 23. · 15 of the 112 (13.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson in 2014 ( Coca-Cola 600 ). · The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway . · 32 of the 112 (28.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. · 85 of the 112 (75.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Nine of the 112 (8.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. · Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Jeff Gordon , Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. · Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes in the Coca-Cola 600 with two. · NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17. Richard Petty leads the series in top fives in the Coca-Cola 600 with 12; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 24. Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and David Pearson lead the series in top 10s in the Coca-Cola 600 with 15 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 12. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.630. · Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.000. Carl Edwards leads all active drivers in average finish in the Coca-Cola 600 with a 9.000. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 30; followed by Ryan Newman with 28. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. · There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (334/336), fall of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). · Five of the 112 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing . Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 200
Drivers support decision to make Busch Chase eligible BUY: Rowdy Returns T-Shirt " RELATED: NASCAR grants Busch a Chase waiver NASCAR competitors testing at Dover International Speedway on Wednesday said they have no qualms with NASCAR granting fellow Kyle Busch a waiver that keeps his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility intact. "We don't have sick days in our sport," six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said during a lunch break at the 1-mile track. "If you get injured in our industry, the repercussions are so big. "Even though he is granted a waiver, you just look at what the team has been through – a couple of different drivers trying to develop the equipment and get it going, missed opportunities to win races. It's a huge penalty to have an injury. If you can come back and win a race, you deserve to be in the Chase." Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, missed the first 11 points races after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot in a crash in the season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . On Wednesday, NASCAR announced its decision to allow Busch to remain eligible, as long as he is in the top 30 in championship driver points standings following the season's 26th race. Busch announced on Tuesday that he would be back in the Sprint Cup car this weekend for Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR). MORE: Busch says All-Star event is 'perfect' for return Under the rules, to be eligible for the Chase drivers must attempt to complete in the 26 points races leading up to the Chase. The 16-team field is comprised of the season's winners and, if fewer than 16 drivers win at least one race, those highest in the points standings following the cutoff race. Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) said, "It's not like he chose to skip races … that's the difference. "They don't want to see someone win a race and say 'alright, I'm good, I'm going to take four or five weeks off and enjoy it and not drive a race car.' … "Kyle is getting back in the car as soon as he possibly can to try to make the Chase. I think letting him do it is fine … that's the way it should be. It's not his fault he got hurt in the first place." The possibility that Busch wins one of the remaining 15 "regular-season" races isn't far-fetched. He has 29 career victories and has won one or more races for 10 consecutive seasons. Climbing his way into the top 30 in points is another matter. Busch would likely need an average finish of at least 16th or to find himself in the top 30 after 26 races. "I don't know what he has to do to get in the top 30," Logano said. "… I think it's well deserved; he's worked hard to get back in the race car and if we race him for a championship at the end of the year, great. I'm not going to say it he shouldn't have won it or something like that. "Those are the rules that we've got … with the Chase, that you're able to recover if something like that happens." David Ragan , who filled in for Busch in nine races, said the NASCAR announcement simply provided Busch an avenue to attempt to qualify. The rest will be up to the driver and the team, led by crew chief Adam Stevens. Ragan took over the reins of the car after Daytona (two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton stepped in at DIS) while 18-year-old Erik Jones made his Sprint Cup debut last weekend at Kansas with the team. "He's just eligible, obviously," Ragan said of Busch. "He's still got to have a great season to make the Chase. He's got to win a race, which isn't easy to do, there are still a lot of good guys that haven't won a race in quite some time; he's got to score some pretty good points to get in the top 30. "I think NASCAR made the right call and Kyle should be happy with that; if he can meet that criteria and make the Chase, he deserves to be in. "If he can score those kind of points, be in the top 30 and win a race, (that's) a chase team and (he's) a Chase driver." • Johnson, Logano and Ragan were among 12 drivers taking part in the open test at Dover. Also on hand were Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ), Danica Patrick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Casey Mears ( Germain Racing ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Jeb Burton ( BK Racing ), Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) and AJ Allmendinger ( JTG Daugherty Racing ). Logano, Hamlin, Patrick and Allmendinger took part in a two-day Goodyear tire test at Dover prior to Wednesday's team test. • Johnson said while Dover and Charlotte appear vastly different, there are things his Hendrick Motorsports team could pick up during the Wednesday test that might be beneficial at CMS. "We might not be able to learn and have the speed on the track today, but we'll go home with some ideas … some things that didn't work or did work and let our group at home stew on it," he said. "It'll help actually this weekend leading into Charlotte. Charlotte and Dover, oddly enough, do have very common sensations and loads and things through the race car. So this test … comes at a good time for us and we should be able to apply things to Charlotte." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose's post-race discussion leads to punches thrown after the Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond.
Casey Mears cuts a tire and scrapes the outside wall losing his rear bumper cover.
After competing in a Jimmie Johnson Foundation 5K race today, Casey Mears took a moment to respond to last night’s altercation with Marcos Ambrose in Richmond.
Mears on 'NASCAR Race Hub': 'Marcos and I had a really good conversation'
Video shows Ambrose's punch hitting Mears in the face
The GarageCam crew takes a stroll through the Sprint Cup Series garage and views the patriotic paint schemes for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.