Fontana, CA (March 25, 2017) – While the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season got underway at Daytona International Speedway in February, Casey Mears and his No. 98 GEICO Ford Mustang made their debut this weekend in southern California. Just before the start of the season, Mears and GEICO announced a 12-race schedule with Biagi-DenBeste Racing that commenced in Fontana. A native of Bakersfield, CA, Mears had many family members on-hand, including his legendary father Roger Mears, when he took to the track to turn his first laps in his new ride.
When practice got underway on Friday, Mears climbed into the No. 98 GEICO Military Ford looking to build the relationship with his new team. This weekend would be Mears’ first opportunity to work with the Biagi-DenBeste Racing organization, but one couldn’t tell, as the group showed speed immediately and finished up the first practice session in the 15th position. In qualifying, they continued to be quick and Mears toured the 2-mile oval in just 40.375-seconds, at a speed of 178.328-miles per hour, landing him 19th on Saturday afternoon’s starting grid.
When the green flag signaled the start of Saturday’s Service King 300, Mears made immediate progress. Starting 19th, the GEICO driver quickly gained five spots and was in the 14th position by the close of lap five. Mears continued his charge by breaking into the top-10 by the tenth lap of the 150-lap event. Throughout the race, the Biagi-DenBeste pit crew worked efficiently, returning the GEICO Military Ford Mustang to the racing surface in prompt fashion after each stop, allowing Mears to remain in a competitive position as the race began to wind down.
When the race’s final caution flag waved with only eight laps to go, crew chief Jon Hanson gambled and ordered Mears and his No. 98 GEICO Military Ford to pit road for four fresh Goodyears, while a large of group of cars stayed out and opted to take their chances against a track that is especially hard on tires. Mears would be relegated to starting 26th when the race returned to green, but Hanson’s gamble paid off. Mears and his GEICO Military machine made an almost effortless assault on the field when they began charging to the front, collecting positions in bulk. By the time the checkered flag closed out a busy day of racing just a few laps later, the Bakersfield native had gathered up 12 spots and crossed the finish line in 14th place.
“We had some fun out there today and the GEICO Military Ford was strong there at the end and we were able to get to the front pretty quick,” Mears said after the race. “We have some work to do, but this was our first race together, so we’ll be stronger as the season goes on. Jon (Hanson, crew chief) and the crew did a nice job on pit road today and made good adjustments as the race went on. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car at Texas and continuing to build something here.”
Mears will drive the No. 98 GEICO Military Ford Mustang in at least 11 more NASCAR Xfinity Series races this season. Below is the current 2017 schedule:
Texas 4/ 8
Watkins-Glen 8/5 (Road Course)
Mid-Ohio 8/12 (Road Course)
Road America 8/27 (Road Course)
Casey Mears and the No. 98 GEICO Military Ford Mustang will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway for the weekend’s opening practice session on Friday, April 7th, at 2:30 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow on Saturday at 10:35 AM (ET).
The My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race is on Saturday, April 8th, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:30 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Please visit www.GEICO.com to learn how you could save money on more than just auto insurance.
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To learn more about Biagi-DenBeste Racing, please visit: www.biagidenbesteracing.com