The chance to stay with a solid organization that has endured an off year is worth the gamble to see if
Mears can't afford to be patient with RCR for too long. Sprint Cup veterans
Heading into Sunday's 30th race of the season at the Auto Club Speedway in southern California, Mears is the top-pointed driver among this group of six, sitting in 19th. It can be argued that Mears has driven better this season than in any of his seven in Cup. The fairest way to evaluate Mears is to compare him to his teammates.
Bowyer, Burton and Harvick have been regulars in the Chase the past several seasons and they didn't come close to making it this year. RCR has work to do on its Chevrolets to return to the upper echelon, a notion that further emphasizes how impressive Mears' improvement has been in a tough situation. He has only three top-10s, but his 15th last week at Dover was his 10th top-15. Mears also doesn't have a DNF.
At age 31, Mears has his best years in front of him, especially considering he didn't start driving stock cars until 2002 in the Nationwide Series. He grew up in Indy car-style racing, driving in the single-seater development series before reaching CART and the Indy Racing League.
Mears was a surprise pick by
The opportunity at Hendrick looked like his big break. Mears won the Coca-Cola 600 in '07 and had career-highs in top-fives (five) and top-10s (10), but 15th in the points didn't compare to the Chase seasons of
Martin's great season in the No. 5 with
The fact Childress wants to keep Mears is an endorsement of his Chase-capable talent in the right equipment and with the right chemistry.
Hall of Fame is a team in a state of flux. It partnered with Yates Racing this season with Labonte and has announced it is moving to points unknown.
TRG was a start-up this season and has done a decent job considering it has been underfunded, but it will be years before it reaches the competitive level of RCR or Earnhardt Ganassi.
Mears is in a difficult spot, waiting for Childress to sign a sponsor to ensure his return. But the clock is ticking on his Cup career, and if Earnhardt Ganassi doesn't call, Hall of Fame or TRG would be better than being unemployed. In Cup, out of sight is out of mind.