Three Questions with Casey Mears

Jerry Bonkowski

When team owner Rick Hendrick decided he would not renew Casey Mears' contract for next season, Mears wasted little time in preparing for his next racing home.

The Bakersfield, Calif., native, who has struggled during his 1 ½-year tenure at Hendrick Motorsports, learned more than two weeks ago that he would be out of the Hendrick camp at season's end.

So, he's made the most of his last two starts, finishing fifth at Sonoma and seventh this past Sunday at New Hampshire, in an effort to audition for a spot with another team for 2009.

Mears talked at New Hampshire about his departure from Hendrick and what his future holds:

Q. What went wrong that you're leaving the team at season's end, and are you thinking about returning to the Indy Car world, or will you stay in Cup?

A. "There is no real one place you can point the finger and say hey, this is bad. At the end of the day, this is a performance-based sport. My uncle (four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears) has always said you’ve got to put the numbers on the board and that’s how you keep your job and keep your ride. And unfortunately for a few different reasons we just haven’t been able to do that this season. (As for Indy Car) No, I want to be here in Cup. This is the best series in the world. Right now it’s the strongest, most competitive place and really, if you want to be a race car driver and prove that you can be the best, you need to be over here and that’s where I want to be.

Q. How does the market look as far as opportunities for you next season?

A. "There actually are some good opportunities out there right now. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m definitely talking to different people. I’m looking forward to having more discussions to see how that’s going to play out."

Q. You're with arguably the best team in the Cup series, yet while your teammates have done fairly well this season, you've struggled. Do you feel you've been given a fair shake?

A. "I understand more than ever that it’s business. At the end of the day, (team owner Rick Hendrick) is trying to run the best possible business he can and do the best things he can for his company. At the same time we’re all really good friends still. I think the fact that I do have such good relationships over there makes these conversations a little bit easier in some respects, and a little bit harder as well because you’re leaving some good friends."

Jerry Bonkowski is National NASCAR Columnist for Yahoo! Sports and a featured contributor for Gatehouse News Service. He can be reached at