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From the Marbles

2012 season in the rear view: Casey Mears

Vitals: 29th in the points standings. 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 0 top 10s. 11 DNFs.

Moment to remember: It's certainly not often that a team that starts and parks on occasion also starts on the pole for a Sprint Cup Series race, but that's what happened for Casey Mears and Germain Racing at Bristol in August. OK, OK, it wasn't a pole the traditional way, but let's not nitpick.

In the weekend's first practice session, Mears and team ran a quick lap in qualifying trim that held up while most teams were running race setups. Before the scheduled qualifying session, a thunderstorm moved over the track and wiped out qualifying. And with NASCAR's rule that the starting is determined by speed in the first practice if qualifying is rained out, Mears found himself on the pole. He led the first 26 laps of the race before finishing a lap down in 21st.

Moment to forget: The week after Bristol, Mears qualified 19th at Atlanta, poised to capitalize on the momentum from the previous race. However, his engine expired and he finished third.

Or we could go with Talladega in the fall, where Mears looked like he could have 1. pushed Michael Waltrip to the win or 2. won the race himself. But 3. he got caught up in that crash when Waltrip and Stewart made contact and 4. officially finished 26th.

The wrap: Mears' 11 DNFs are a tad misleading, because he retired due to "brakes" or a "vibration" five times in 2012, including both Pocono races. (Insert "It's Pocono, can you blame him for leaving early?" joke here.) When Mears went the distance, there were some promsing runs like four straight top 20 finishes at Michigan, Sonoma, Kentucky and Daytona. But immediately after that, the realities of an underfunded single car team hit and Mears start and parked two of the next three races.

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