Darlington: Casey Mears preview

TARGET TEAM FACTS: * Chassis: Team Target is taking chassis ...

Darlington: Casey Mears preview

TARGET TEAM FACTS:

* Chassis: Team Target is taking chassis #302 to Darlington; this is a brand new car.

* Mears tested at Darlington Raceway on March 4th and 5th.

* Mears is currently the highest in NASCAR championship points compared to all other Raybestos Rookie candidates (27th). Mears is currently second in Raybestos Rookie points standings (behind teammate Jamie McMurray).

* Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray are the first teammate rookies to compete for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors.

* Mears became the first rookie to lead a lap and the only rookie to lead a lap in the Daytona 500.

CASEY MEARS QUOTES:

On crew chief Jimmy Elledge...
"He's a real fun guy to work with. Also, we just get along really well. He's closer to my age than anybody I've worked with in the past. We go out and have dinner when we get a chance. I think we have a really good working relationship. Everything is so new right now. It's kind of a fresh start for him because he can come in and try anything that he wants to on the car. I'm not going to go, 'no, that didn't work for me in the past, let's not do that.' We try a lot of stuff in the car and I think that makes it fun for him and fun for me to. It allows him to get a little more innovative on setups. It's been a really good working relationship so far and I can see nothing but a lot of growth in it."

How would you describe yourself as a driver?
"I would say that I'm aggressive but I'm in a stage right now where there's so much learning to be done and so much respect that I have to gain from the other drivers that I can't afford to be too aggressive and make mistakes. I'm definitely going out and driving as hard as I can with leaving that inch to spare to gain the experience. I can't go out there and be too aggressive right off the bat and overstep my grounds. We will learn nothing from that. I need to run the entire race. A big focus for us for the first half of the season is to get all the laps in that we possibly can so I can step up and be more aggressive the second half of the season."

Do stock cars feel slower to you compared to your experience in open-wheel cars?
"Yes. At the end of the straightaway, the speeds definitely feel slower. The reaction in a stock car is much slower and lazier but at the same time, when you get into the corner you almost feel like you're going faster in a stock car because the car is sliding around as opposed to be locked down. The sensation of speed I think would be almost a little greater in a stock car going through the corner because your fighting the car so much more."

Start to the season...
"Things are going really well. We keep improving every weekend. I've got so much to learn. How we're running now isn't a direct result of how were going to run at the end of the year. We're going to improve throughout the year. I couldn't even sit here and tell you what the biggest thing I've learned and tell it to you. It's just a matter of getting seat time and how to work with Jimmy; how the team and I work together; how to manage time for the sponsor and media. It's not like I say, 'Hey this is the big thing that really excelled us this weekend.' It's just a matter of putting in the time - the seat time, the media time, the team time. And it's just going to get better and better."

Good Vegas finish...
"Our finish at Vegas was a lot more representative of how we ran at Daytona and Rockingham. At those two places we didn't have the results of how we ran, it was just the circumstances of how we finished. Where we ended up at Vegas was where we were at Daytona and Rockingham. And I think we're just going to keep learning and get better."

JIMMY ELLEDGE QUOTES (CREW CHIEF):

On Casey's Darlington test...
"The test at Darlington went well last week. We spent a lot of time getting Casey familiar with the racetrack and familiar in a Winston Cup car there. And he adapted very quickly as usual. It's such a tough place. You can work on a car all you want to. The 40 car has been so successful there so we took their setup and started working from that. We just worked on getting Casey familiar with that setup and with that car."

Darlington car...
"We're taking car number 302 to Darlington - a brand new race car. Well, it was brand new before we knocked the side out of it and the brakes wouldn't work and the batteries went dead in it. Now, its good and broke in."

-cgr-

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