NASCAR & Auto Racing

It's all good - but just as long as it's good and fast, Mears says

As the first session of Sprint Cup Series testing wrapped up Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway, Casey Mears said it was way too early for him to start borrowing trouble for the season ahead.

“Right now we're so focused on just doing well that to think about running bad, it just isn't in my vocabulary right now,” said Mears, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolets.

“There's so many good things going for us.”

Mears got his first career win last season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and this year he moves to a team that made the Chase last season with Kyle Busch driving its cars.

Mears and teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon will be joined, of course, by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in this year’s Hendrick lineup.

Mears knows that group will be watched closely to see if there can be enough success to keep everybody happy, but says that pressure to do well is nothing new.

“I've always felt like I need to win,” he said. “I've never raced and been satisfied with being mediocre.

" ... I really feel like being with Hendrick Motorsports. I got a win under my belt last year and this year I feel like we're a lot more prepared to be successful out of the gate. The fact that they've had the success in the 5 team the last couple years doesn't make me nervous. It kind of makes me excited.

“I get really excited at the opportunity, the fact that these guys have been there, done it, the experience is there. ...Obviously, our goals are high. We want to make the Chase.”

Crew chief Alan Gustafson remains with the team and has much the same expectation.

“There's a big demand for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jr., which is great. For separate reasons, that's very deserving on their parts. I completely understand that.

“But it doesn't change anything that I do. I still want to win. I still want to compete. I still want to be the best. If we’re the champions (in 2008) and nobody writes about us, that's fine with me because that's what I'm in it for, is to be the champions and do the best job I can. It's not a big deal to us. I think it's kind of funny. It's cool my neighbors are asking me about my teammates.”

Related stories from Modesto Bee