Huntersville, N.C. -- Casey Mears didn't let a punch keep him away from a race Sunday morning.
The driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was in Huntersville, N.C. for a 5K race put on by the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. It came not long after the checkered flag fell in Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway. Mears finished 19th in that race, and left with a bruised left eye after a punch from fellow driver Marcos Ambrose.
"He got me pretty good with that shot." Mears told NASCAR.com after completing his 5K run.
Mears wore sunglasses for most of Sunday's event, but it was clear the punch left a gnarly bruise and swollen left eye. Replays of the incident show Mears and Ambrose talking just after the race ended. The situation escalated when Mears forcefully shoved Ambrose. The driver of the No. 9 Ford then returned with a right hook to Mears' face.
On Sunday, Mears remained affable despite being on the wrong end of the punch.
"One thing I can say is that out of all the NASCAR fights, when you see people swing it's usually a lot of fly-swatting," Mears said. "He actually connected, so that was pretty good."
Mears said the bad blood began on the track while the two were battling for position. He didn't mention one specific incident, but conceded both drivers did things the other was not happy with.
In Geico Racing's post-race media release, the following incident was mentioned: "With just 18 laps remaining in the advertised distance, Mears and his GEICO machine restarted the race from the 16th position and began charging forward before the No. 9 car of Marcos Ambrose made contact and caused front fender damage that resulted in a tire rub."
Ambrose finished 18th, one spot ahead of Mears.
"I don't think it's something you just forget," Mears said, about potential retaliation. "So that's kind of where it sits."
NASCAR officials are reviewing the incident.
FYI: Mears is no worse for wear. pic.twitter.com/p8AzKG82dj— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) April 27, 2014