PREVIEW: CASEY MEARS (NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD/GMAC IMPALA SS)
VENUE: NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (1.058-MILE OVAL)
CIRCUIT: NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES (RACE 17 OF 36)
EVENT: SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2007 (300 LAPS, 317.4 MILES)
SEARCHING FOR SUCCESS AT LOUDON: Casey Mears, driver of the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet, earned his best finish at New Hampshire International Speedway when he made his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at the track as a rookie in July 2003. The Bakersfield, Calif., native finished 16th in that race.
NEW HAMPSHIRE CLUB: Despite his lukewarm relationship with New Hampshire in the past, Mears has been on a hot streak of late and will look to join his Hendrick Motorsports teammates as a NEXTEL Cup race winner at the 1.058-mile oval. Team owner Rick Hendrick has six Cup victories at New Hampshire, all earned by his current drivers: Jeff Gordon (3), Jimmie Johnson (2) and Kyle Busch (1).
DOING THEIR HOMEWORK: Mears and the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet team tested at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., earlier this month in preparation for Sunday's race at New Hampshire, which will feature the new Impala SS.
CHASSIS 427 FOR MEARS: Crew chief Darian Grubb has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 427 for this weekend's NEXTEL Cup event in Loudon, N.H. The car logged 500 miles at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway earlier this season.
DON'T DRIVE DROWSY: As winner of the annual 600-mile race at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- NASCAR's longest event of the year -- Mears is an especially appropriate spokesperson for the recently released 2007 GMAC Insurance National Driver's Test and the importance of being well-rested before making any kind of long-distance drive. After polling 5,175 licensed Americans, study results showed that 96 percent of drivers say they know that driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. However, their actual behaviors don't match up as 65 percent -- or approximately 130 million Americans -- admit they would drive more than seven hours in one day while fatigued. For more information about the survey, visit www.gmacinsurance.com.
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MEARS AND COMPANY: Mears will greet fans and sign autographs at 10:30 a.m. local time on Sunday at the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC souvenir hauler outside New Hampshire International Speedway.
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CASEY MEARS, DRIVER OF THE NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD/GMAC IMPALA SS: (ON WHY HE LOOKS FORWARD TO RACING AT NEW HAMPSHIRE.) "I think New Hampshire is a lot of fun. It's a short track, but ever since they repaved it, it seems like it has a couple grooves. Some guys run all the way down on the bottom, some guys arc it in and run that upper line a little bit. It's a racy track."
MEARS: (ON WHAT HIS TEAM GAINED BY TESTING THE IMPALA SS AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE IN PREPARATION FOR THIS WEEKEND.) "I felt like we just got so much valuable information at that test. Obviously, you don't want to set up your car for Loudon just like you would at Milwaukee because they are different tracks. But at the same time, they are very similar and the test session gave us a good idea of the direction we need to go with the Impala SS. If we do show up at Loudon and we're a little bit off, we'll take a look at the trends and patterns from Milwaukee and go from there. That's what testing is all about and why we do it."
MEARS: (ON THE 2007 GMAC INSURANCE NATIONAL DRIVER'S TEST AND THE STUDY'S FINDING THAT TOO MANY AMERICANS ARE DRIVING DROWSY.) "When people hit the roads for long trips this summer, they really need to keep tabs on their level of fatigue. It doesn't pay to skimp on sleep, and coffee and cat naps are only a quick fix. Getting plenty of rest is one of the keys to staying safe and being at your best, whether you're driving down the interstate or making laps around the race track."