NASCAR's Most Improved Driver: Casey Mears?

Charlie TurnerSenior Writer IJanuary 29, 2009

NASCAR’s 2009 Sprint Cup Series is revving up all the usual suspects picked by someone to grab the France Family jewels. But who is your version of the Phoenix, the legendary bird that rises from the ashes?

Bram, that sage Scottish Racer of Backstretch Motorsports acclaim, asked just that over at the BenchRacers forum . Who has the chance to be most improved? Here’s a bit of Bram’s answer to his own question…

“no one stands a better chance at brass-covered tin-ring than Casey Mears.. he’s fully funded and from all outward signs, has a much stronger support system behind him at the Welcome, NC shops as opposed to the ‘and we must mention…’ status he got at Hendrick.. and this is his last chance…”

Is this Casey Mears’ last chance in Cup? It’s hard to argue that logic. Mears has had what seemed at the time, to be very good rides.

The second car at Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing and then the No. 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports. But the results of the Ganassi team show that they have been annually overrated and Hendrick has never gotten the fourth car up to the level of the No. 24 or 48.

Mears seems the perfect fit for Richard Childress Racing. He reminds me of Jeff Burton, in fact. I’ve had to opportunity to interview Mears and it would be tough to come away from that experience with anything but hope for his success.

It would seem that all is in place for Casey to have that “Most Improved Driver” kind of season. The caveat is that RCR has never run four cars for a full season. It can be argued that only Jack Roush has done so successfully. I like Casey’s chances, though.

Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler - ON PIT ROW