LOOKING AHEAD: Mears is still wondering what might have happened if the Daytona race had gone the full distance. "A top-five is always good, but it comes with mixed emotions because we had a car that couldn't won the race," said Mears. "We have a lot of momentum rolling into Loudon, so we're hoping we can get a solid finish as we head into the final off-week of the season."
LOOKING BACK: Mears was both a happy camper and a frustrated one after the Daytona race was called after 112 laps because of rain. "It was a great day for the Germain Racing, our number 13 Geico Chevy was really strong," said Mears after his fourth-place finish, his best finish of the season. "We definitely had a shot at this thing, which leaves us frustrated that we didn't get to compete the final 48 laps, but at the same time we earned the finish and raced at the front all day, so we're happy about finishing fourth," added Mears. This was Mears' third straight top-10 finish at Daytona.
ETC.: Both of Mears' top-10 finishes this season have come at Daytona, so it is no surprise how much effort the team puts into its restrictor-plate program. "They (his crew) give us a chance to win every time we show up here," said Mears. "I'm happy for everyone on this team, the road crew and our guys back at the shop that work so hard when we're at the track. We've had a few strong races in a row, so we hope to continue the run we've been on when we get to Loudon."
41 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 104 points out of the top 10. Will make the Chase because of his Martinsville win.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Three wins and 11 top-10 finishes including seven top-five's in 26 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch calls New Hampshire "a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport. I raced there for the first time in the Truck Series and won that race. Then it's track where I have three wins in the Cup cars, and when you're able to go to a track where you've had that kind of success, it just gives you that confidence."
LOOKING BACK: Busch led three times for a race-high 36 laps and was the leader on the final restart on lap 105. But he lost the lead to Aric Almirola a lap later and was running third when the rains hit for a second time on lap 110. The race was red-flagged two laps later with NASCAR deciding to call the race an hour later with rain still failing. "It's a tough pill to swallow," said Busch. "We want to go back out there and race. But at the same time, this team has turned a good corner. It's been about five weeks in a row now we've been in the top 15 and we cashed in on a top-five finish today. So that's the good news. But I didn't do my job to be the leader. We didn't quite have a solid restart at the end to be the leader when the race was called. It seems early to call a race."
ETC.: Busch believes he and rookie crew chief Daniel Knost are finally getting comfortable with each other. "There's some times when a driver and crew chief hit it off and they're off to the races right away," said Busch. "Daniel and I have been slower to mature together in our relationship, and so we're 18 races into our first date. Now we're going into the second half of the season, and all of our first dates are done. We'll go to New Hampshire this week, and that'll be the last new track that we see together, and then from there on out, all the tracks that we've been to we have notes and we have test sessions planned, and that's where we have to make the 41 team stronger."
10 DANICA PATRICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE SHE STANDS: 27th, 136 points out of the Chase. Gained one spot last week.
NEW HAMSPHIRE RECORD: Best finish in two starts is 27th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Patrick "really likes" going to New Hampshire. "I like that area of the country and like the restaurants and what it has to offer," adds Patrick. "We were OK last year and I'm anxious to see what we've got this year. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and his guys have won there before, so I'm ready to get going."
LOOKING BACK: It was an up and down day for Patrick. She was involved in the two major accidents and overshot her pit stall to fall out of the lead draft. Despite all of this, Patrick was able to finish eighth for her second top-10 finish of the season. "The car was fast," said Patrick.
"We were in two crashes, and the car was Ok to keep going, which is hard to do here at Daytona. We were really fortunate from that perspective, and the same was true getting a yellow (flag) in the middle when I made the mistake on pit road. It's been a crazy day. I can't believe we finished eighth."
ETC.: Patrick feels she and her team are "getting better. The more I get to these race tracks and get experience the better I am," said Patrick. "I think we're qualifying better, for sure, and I think our race results are better. A lot of that has to do with the GoDaddy team and Tony Gibson giving me good cars. It's a process, but I think it's moving in the right direction."