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January 18, 2003

Casey Mears


Q. Casey, how is everything shaking out for the No. 41 team.

CASEY MEARS: Everything is going well so far. We went to Talladega, Lakeland, and Daytona. Everywhere we have gone so far, I think this team is jelling well and getting along really well with Jimmy (Elledge). We kind of had a little friendship before we started this year and that's made it real good. We have come together and things are looking strong. So I am looking forward to getting started.

Q. Casey, if you could talk a little bit about driving for Chip Ganassi, what expectations are on you and talk about the large rookie crop this year and what that means to a sport and having so many first-year drivers?

CASEY MEARS: Expectations are all over the board. It's changed a lot in the last couple of years. Usually a rookie coming in, the expectation would be to finish races. In the last couple of years, the rookies are winning races like Jamie's second race out. Given the good equipment we have at Target Chip Ganassi, expectations could be anywhere. We could win the first race or go out and have a horrible race. Given the equipment we have, and the resources, and the good people we have, ours is going to be on the good side of things and not so much on the bad. We got a lot of good things going right now. The momentum is there. Testing is going well. The season hasn't even gotten started yet. But I think the positive attitude we have on the team right now, how excited the crew is and how excited I am; it's going to bring a lot for us this year. As far as the rookie deal goes, I haven't thought about it a whole lot. I think it's definitely good to have some new guys coming in. iT makes it fresh. Biffle will be strong, Jamie, Schrader -- I don't know who else is going to be in the rookie running this year. That's a strong group. It's going to be tough and I am looking forward to racing.

Q. What if anything prepares you for the long and season?

CASEY MEARS: I haven't thought about the whole season yet. I'm taking it one step at a time, get the first race and see how it goes and hopefully things get going and getting better all the time and we will see where it goes from there.

Q. What's your impression of the standard template and how do you think it will affect the competition?

CASEY MEARS: The one thing I have noticed is that it is going to be competitive. They're getting the cars closer and closer. The cars look a lot more similar than they did last year as far as the rear deck lids and the hood all the way through the top of the roof. The only thing that is really different is front ends and back end. It is really narrowing in on us. You can't do too many things different, we are getting so many templates now, it is narrowing in on you. You can't do things a whole lot different. I'm looking forward to it. It is putting everyone on a level playing field and that is good for me coming in as a rookie.

Q. Are you surprised you reached Winston Cup this quickly?

CASEY MEARS: I think everyone is surprised about it. Obviously, you come in getting a couple of years of Busch under your belt, a little more experience, but the opportunity came around, I had to take it. It's a great opportunity and I think I learned a lot last year. I didn't get to show it in a lot of cases. Fortunately, the guys that really know were watching and got a great opportunity and I am going make the best of it.

End of FastScripts...

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