Mears Captures USG DUROCK 300 for First Career Win

In his 69th career NASCAR start, Casey Mears captured his first-ever victory in either a Busch or NEXTEL Cup race in the USG DUROCK 300 this afternoon. This was Mears' second top-five finish at the 1.5-mile tri-oval, third top-five and fourth top-10 of the 2006 season.

"It means everything to me to finally get a win," said Mears. "We've been in position a lot of time to win, had cars that could have won and for some reason or other, I didn't bring it home, whether it was strategy or late caution. To finally just come home with one is just a relief, and we know we could do it. I've never really got down on myself because we've led those laps and because we've showed we've been so dominant at times, I got the confidence that hey, if we can get all the pieces of the puzzle together, we can do this, and today we did that."

The No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge team, who started today's race in the seventh spot, took a gamble late in the race, which ended up paying off. Mears stayed out when nearly everyone else pitted with less than 50 laps to go. This move turned out to be the decisive factor in his victory, as it gave him the lead for good, leading the last 47 laps of the race on his way to Gatorade Victory Lane.

Pole sitter Carl Edwards finished in second place after leading 53 laps and dominating a majority of the race. Edwards could not pull off a late charge to catch Mears in the end. He now ranks second in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings with 2,599 points.

"He deserves to win that race," said Edwards, driver of the No. 60 Duck Tape/Henkel Ford. "I didn't know he was short on gas. The way Brad Parrot [Mears' crew chief] runs races, I figured there was something they were short on. He's a gambler, but I didn't know he was short on fuel. He started to slow down at the end and I guess he was trying to conserve fuel, but hey, I just did everything I could."

Tomorrow's pole sitter for the USG SHEETROCK 400, Jeff Burton, finished third, followed by current NASCAR Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth who finished fifth. Kurt Busch, who started third, led for a race-high 79 laps but a mid-race pit strategy put him back in the pack to record a sixth place finish.

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