A bone-headed move by Casey Mears has cost him what may be his last best-chance opportunity to make it in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.
Mears was the replacement driver for the ailing Brian Vickers at Team Red Bull. Vickers and Scott Speed were the full-time drivers for the team before Vickers suffered blood clots that required him to sit out the rest of the season. Enter Mears.
So how did Mears, who has had top-notch rides with Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing, endear himself to his new team as fill-in driver? He got mad at the team’s full-time driver (Speed) and crashed him last week at Michigan while the two battled for 29th place. That’s right ... 29th place.
Rick Hendrick, whose teams have won nine championships, pioneered the team system in the mid-80s. He required his drivers and teams to share all of their data and information. No secrets. It’s probably why drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte drove Hendrick cars to the championship, often beating their teammate in the process.
Hendrick has no team orders except for one: Do not wreck your teammate.
So Mears was trying to make good in good equipment. Vickers won at Michigan last August in the car that Mears was driving. Mears felt Speed raced him too hard early in the race, so he paid him back, ultimately wrecking both of them.
“Both of us were struggling, but (Mears) wrecking us like that – I mean is ridiculous,” Speed said. “Whenever you’re at Hendrick (Motorsports) or Richard Childress Racing and then you still don’t have a ride and haven’t done anything, there’s no real excuses after that. But whatever.”
Mears didn’t deny his actions in the race were caused by his anger at Speed.
“I was frustrated with him at the beginning of the race because we were running so far back and he was just running so hard,” Mears said. “When I caught him for a the third time and catching him pretty fast, I was having a difficult time getting by him again.
“I was having to run so freaking hard just to try to get by him. If I ever could have gotten by him, I could have just went on. Because he was running so hard, it caused me to run hard and when I did, I made a mistake. I got a little loose getting in and got into him. For sure, it wasn’t intentional.”
Regardless, Red Bull Racing fired him after the wreck and replaced him with Reed Sorenson.
And with that foolish move in Michigan, Mears may have wrecked his career.