With his job presumably on the line, Casey
Mears stretched his fuel to the finish line Sunday night to win the
Coca-Cola 600 for his first Nextel Cup victory.
Mears, struggling through his first season at elite Hendrick
Motorsports, ran strong all night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but
only took the lead when Tony Stewart ducked onto pit road for a
splash of gas.
Mears and his team gambled and pushed the Chevrolet to the
finish, running out of gas moments after taking his first checkered
flag. It was Hendrick's fifth straight win and the ninth in the
past 10 Nextel Cup races, but came from the unlikeliest driver.
And it put a Mears back in Victory Lane on the biggest day in
racing for the first time in 16 years.
Mears is the nephew of Rick Mears, a four-time Indianapolis 500
J.J. Yeley, like Mears considered one of the drivers in jeopardy
of losing their ride to make room for free agent Dale Earnhardt
Jr., finished second for the first-top five finish of his career.
Kyle Petty was third - his first top five in 10 years - and Reed
Sorenson was fourth. Brian Vickers was fifth in the highest finish
this season for Toyota.
In fact, the top five all celebrated their best result of the
Stewart, who seemed to have the win in the bag after Jimmie
Johnson gave it away in the pits, wound up sixth.