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With Michigan finally complete, Mears ready to tackle Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 25, 2007) – The rain in the Irish Hills of Michigan finally stopped on Tuesday, allowing Casey Mears, driver of the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet, to earn his ninth top-15 finish of the 2007 season.

With the momentum the team has shown since its win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May, Mears is ready to get to a track that has always been tough for him: Bristol Motor Speedway.

In the first eight of his nine career Cup starts at Bristol, Mears found himself with only one finish inside the top 20. All of that changed, however, when he joined Hendrick Motorsports.

In his first Bristol start with the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC team, Mears earned his first top-10 result at the tricky track—a feat that allowed the driver to breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, returning to the place he had finally figured out, Mears will find a different Bristol.

Immediately following the March race weekend, the half-mile speedway was completely resurfaced. And while other drivers were able to test on the track, Mears was not, leaving it a complete mystery.

“Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to expect this weekend,” Mears said. “The track sounds like it is a good bit different in the way that it drives. You can run around the bottom like you did before, but it also sounds like some guys are running just off the bottom now as well.

“Also, the lap times in general seem a little bit slower, but I don’t know if that’s because of the harder tire or because of the track itself not having as much grip. So, there are a number of unknowns, but I’m looking forward to getting on track and trying it out for myself.”

Mears got on the track for the first time during an open practice session for the NASCAR Busch Series teams on Thursday. He then raced in Friday night’s NBS event before devoting his full attention to the Saturday evening Cup show.

Mears isn’t sure what to expect, but he does have a strategy in place: stay out of trouble.

“Staying up front is definitely key at Bristol because trouble tends to brew in the back,” he said. “The best thing you can do as a driver and as a team is to qualify well and hopefully hold that position when things start to get wild behind you during the race.”