Casey Mears and Germain Racing have agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep Mears in the No. 13 Chevrolet through 2018, the team announced Thursday. GEICO also extended its relationship with Germain Racing to be the vehicle's primary sponsor through 2018. GEICO has been a primary sponsor with the team since its inception in 2009. "This is great news for our Germain Racing team because everyone has worked so hard to build this GEICO program and people in the garage are taking notice of what we're accomplishing," Mears said in a team release. "GEICO is such a great partner and they not only support our team, but the sport in general, which makes me even prouder to have the opportunity to drive the GEICO Chevy. We appreciate their belief in us and have enjoyed our relationship with everyone at the corporate office, as well as the GEICO associates that we get to interface with each week at the race track." Mears has piloted the car full time since the 2011 season, notching one top five and five top 10s during that span. He currently sits 22nd in the points standings with two races remaining in the 2015 season. If it holds, it would be his best finish with Germain Racing .
Podcast discusses dune buggies, spirit animals, run-in with Marcos Ambrose Casey Mears -- the man, the myth, the legend -- joined us on the "Dirty Air Podcast" this week. The last time the guys from the "Dirty Air" hung out with the driver of the No. 13 Geico Chevrolet it was out in the sand dunes of Brawley, California, during the NASCAR Goes West extravaganza. RELATED: Watch video of that event here We covered a lot of topics with Casey while he was on the show, from spirit animals and contract extensions, to Jimmie Johnson and ice cream flavors. We gave you just a taste of the full conversation in the video above. You should definitely check out the rest -- we also get into a slightly heated debate about somebody who is chasing something ... you'll have to tune in for more. • Log on to the iTunes Store and subscribe • Or watch the full replay on YouTube You can also listen right here on NASCAR.com using this sweet widget! We will see you next week back in the pack here in the "Dirty Air."
Casey Mears is forced to a backup car after hitting the wall hard at Kansas Speedway during qualifying.
Driver will return to the No. 13 Chevrolet in 2016 Casey Mears has signed a contract extension to keep him with Germain Racing for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Mears , 37, has been with Germain Racing since late in the 2010 season. During that time, he has one top-five finish and five top-10 finishes, all of which have come at restrictor-plate tracks. "I'm really happy to announce that Casey Mears is back in the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS next year," team owner Bob Germain Jr. said in a release provided by the team. "He's been an integral part of the team's growth and success over the past 5 years and I am confident he can continue to help us move forward and reach our goals. We've come a long way as a team, and assembled a group of extremely talented people who enjoy working together. As the team owner, that's really the thing I'm most proud of. And, of course, the long term support of GEICO has given us the stability we needed to make it all happen." In his fifth full-time season with Germain, Mears is currently 20th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. "It's really exciting to drive the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS again in 2016," Mears said in a team release. "I think that it's been a long time in the making here at Germain Racing , being competitive at the Cup level. It's been a long process to get the GEICO program to where we are now. We are finally starting to see some of the benefits from all the hard work from the last four or five years. I'm very excited to carry on the GEICO relationship and to be a part of Germain Racing 's continued growth." In his 13 seasons in the sport's top series, Mears has one win, which came in 2007 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 with Hendrick Motorsports . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The guys caught up with Casey Mears before heading to Chicagoland Speedway. In this short clip they talk about dune buggies, spirit animals and his run in with Marcos Ambrose. Listen to the whole show in iTunes by searching: 'The Dirty Air Podcast'
Both drivers docked 15 minutes of on-track practice time The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams of Germain Racing with Casey Mears and Richard Childress Racing with Ryan Newman will serve 15-minute penalties during this weekend’s opening practice at Pocono (Pennsylvania) Raceway, according to NASCAR officials. The two teams received written warnings during this past weekend’s race activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. The warning for the No. 13 team of Mears was a result of qualifying inspection issues while Newman’s group required additional trips through the inspection line during pre-race inspection. Opening practice at Pocono is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. ET. NASCAR began the process of issuing written warnings earlier this year to teams that failed to pass pre-qualifying or pre-race technical inspection twice during an event. Such warnings are part of the sanctioning body’s Deterrence Policy, which categorizes individual infractions (Level 1 through Level 6) for penalty purposes. Two written warnings during one event or a single warning during two consecutive events is considered a P1 level infraction. Penalties may include a deduction in track time for practice or qualifying, delay in the order of inspection or last choice in the pit selection process. Officials also said that post-race technical inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center for the cars of race winner Kyle Busch , runner-up Joey Logano and Kyle Larson (random) had been completed with no issues. Pocono is hosting the Windows 10 400 on Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Casey Mears breaks his rear axle housing bringing out a late race caution in Sonoma.
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.
He guided Kyle Busch to a fifth-place finish in NASCAR's championship battle in 2007, and Mark Martin to a runner-up result just two years later. But nothing can compare to this season, this Chase and, especially, this race. The No. 24 team's crew chief, Alan Gustafson, will be in the spotlight this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway , every bit as much as Jeff Gordon , his successful driver. Gordon, winner of more races than any active driver -- 93 total wins -- and No. 3 on NASCAR's career wins list, will wrap up a 23-year career when he hits the track for Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Miami. A four-time winner of the series' title, Gordon, 44, seeks to go out on top, champion of a sport that he helped transform. And Gustafson, overseer of Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet since 2005, will be there by his side. Standing between the pair and possibly one of the biggest moments the sport has ever seen? Defending series champion Kevin Harvick , Busch and Martin Truex Jr ., an underdog who has continued to keep his title hopes alive with as much grit and determination as speed on the race track. The group makes up this year's Championship 4, and the highest finishing driver of the quartet on Sunday will earn the coveted 2015 Sprint Cup title. Gustafson has yet to be distracted by the spotlight as Gordon's racing career nears the end, and he expects that will be the case this weekend, although he knows it won't be easy. "I've tried not to focus on that all season even though it's difficult to do at times," Gustafson said last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway . "You just look at the race and you execute it and you do what you have to do to put ourselves in the best position to win. "Obviously, it's a huge deal. It's an amazing opportunity, but to me it's about the opportunity to win Homestead and the championship. How big that is or isn't in anybody else's eyes really doesn't influence me. It's different, but it really isn't different in my eyes from something I've worked for my whole life. You prepare your whole life for this and you have to embrace that and do the best you can." Gordon is the fourth driver Gustafson has worked for since moving into the crew chief role at Hendrick Motorsports in 2005. The Ormond Beach, Florida, native worked his way up from the chassis shop to shock specialist to lead engineer to crew chief in a span of seven years. Paired with Busch from '05-07, the team won four times; in '08 he called the shots for Casey Mears , and in '09 the veteran Mark Martin came on board and won five times. Gustafson also served briefly as an interim crew chief for driver Terry Labonte . Working with each driver brought new opportunities and a wealth of information. It would have been impossible not to learn as he worked with such a diverse group of talented drivers. "Absolutely. I'm fortunate to have those opportunities," Gustafson said. "You learn a lot from those guys. The vast experience that Terry had and what he's been through. And Kyle, you go right to the polar opposite -- has all the talent in the world, (at the time had) very little experience and he has to kind of navigate this sport. "He had to start tough for whatever reason. To work through those things with him and work with him as he matured and see the mistakes he made and go through the mistakes with him and make a lot of mistakes myself, that was very interesting and very fun and great experience. Had Casey Mears for a year, which was tough and humbling. Didn't seem to be able to do much right. That was a very trying time. I learned a lot about myself and how to work through difficult times. "And the success we had with Mark and the way he approached racing. That's it. He is so racing, racing, racing, racing, racing. Maybe lift weights in there somewhere. But Mark was a huge supporter of mine, which I've always appreciated. He wanted to see me be the best I could be. He was good about pointing out things and saying, 'Hey, look at this, look at that.' Even after he no longer drove, he's that kind of person. He likes to help other people. That was fun. He knows a ton and how he handles himself, absolutely learned a ton from that." Gustafson, who will continue as the No. 24 crew chief next year when Chase Elliott takes the ride, honed his talents and grew as a crew chief long before he and Gordon were united; Gordon's status as a sure-fire future Hall of Fame member, already in place, won three of his four championships with Ray Evernham as crew chief while the fourth came with Robbie Loomis atop the pit box. Some crew chiefs are great motivators while the strength of others might be more engineering based. Gustafson has worked hard to mesh the two. His car knowledge and understanding of aerodynamics allows him to converse easily with team engineers as well as fabricators and others who have their hands on the cars that roll off the line and wind up carrying the familiar No. 24 paint scheme. "He is just on their level and connects with them," Gordon said. "I think it earns a lot of respect, certainly, from my standpoint it is why I wanted to work with him so bad and why I've enjoyed working with him so much. It's because he is just so good with the cars. "He has definitely had to work and hone his skills on how to be that confident, powerful leader. He has become extremely good at it, but I do think that's probably something that was not as natural to him as the engineering. "He has got a tremendous work ethics and drive. That to me is what makes a great crew chief. When I think back to me and Ray (Evernham) or I look at other crew chiefs at Hendrick and in the garage, the ones that are just willing to sacrifice everything and put that kind of effort into it are the ones that are successful. That is what Alan does." When Gordon won at Martinsville to secure a spot in this weekend's final, the focus turned to the 1.5-mile Miami track. Efforts at Texas and Phoenix, where he finished ninth and sixth, respectively, may have suffered slightly, Gustafson admitted. "You are in a little bit of this, awkward is not the right word, you're kind of in this limbo kind of space," Gustafson said. "You don't want to run bad, you don't want to struggle, you don't want any bad momentum, you want to keep positive momentum and you're focused on Homestead. Other guys aren't, they're focused on Texas and (Phoenix). "It's a little different, first time I've been in this position. … It's a little bit of an unknown. I'm very curious to have gone through this, then go to Homestead and look back and say 'Eh, this (worked), maybe that (didn't), maybe this, you know, critique how we handle things because it is unprecedented now."