No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet, earned his first top-five finish at Infineon Raceway on Sunday. Mears started 23rd. (Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)Whoa. So the rumors are true. Casey Mears is leaving Hendrick Motorsports at the end of this season. As per usual with these types of things there are no hard feelings from Casey or team owner Rick Hendrick. Mhmm.

“We’ve put a ton of emphasis on the No. 5 program,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “It’s been a total team effort, and Casey has worked as hard as anyone to help us improve. We’ve tested more than we ever have, but the results just haven’t come.

“None of us, Casey included, have been satisfied with the situation this season. But he’s confident there are other options out there for him in 2009, and we feel like Hendrick Motorsports will have some opportunities, too.”

Mears will finish the 2008 Sprint Cup campaign in Hendrick’s No. 5 Chevrolets.

“I know the effort has been there, but we haven’t had the finishes to show for it,” Mears said. “I’ve never tested this much or put more energy into racing. But for whatever reason, we just haven’t been able to make it click. It’s certainly not for lack of dedication on anyone’s part.

“I’ll talk to people about opportunities and get my 2009 plans wrapped up soon, but I’m also focused on the next 20 races and finishing 2008 on a positive note. We ran well the second half last year, and I know we can do it again. I want to close this season the right way.”

I hate to see this because I like Casey and I liked him with Hendrick but I guess ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I would really love to know the real, real reasons for this move and change. I’m sure it was based on performance but Hendrick is known for being this powerhouse race team, so you have to think if you can’t make it happen there what else can you do?

In other news…

Greg Biffle is staying with Roush Fenway Racing. He has signed a three-year extension with the company, extending the relationship that began in 1998.

“I’m extremely happy and relieved to have this contract complete,” said Biffle. “I have a team that can contend for the championship this season and for future seasons as well. 3M has been an incredible partner for several years now and having them on board made the decision even easier. All the elements are in place: the resources of Ford and Roush Fenway, the excellent team, the outstanding cars and having a great primary sponsor like 3M for the next few years.”

— On Sunday’s episode of Outside the Lines on ESPN the show will take a look at how our crap economy is affecting NASCAR and the teams that run in its series. We all know that it takes a lot of money to contend for a race, let alone a Championship, but these days just fielding a team at all requires serious positive cash flow.

“We are committed to getting through this year, but I got to be able to see into ’09 something a little more positive than I see today. I think we’ll make it, but the economy and the struggles the other teams are seeing are the same as ours. It is a tough, tough world out there right now in NASCAR.” – Doug Yates, owner of Yates Racing

Outside the Lines will air on Sunday, June 29th on ESPN at 9:30 a.m. ET; and on ESPNEWS at noon. Check your local listings.

Good housekeeping…

There’s still time to enter the contest to win a copy of the NASCAR DVD set “Full Throttle Adrenaline.” Deadline to enter is Friday, July 4, 2008. The contest is over!

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