CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Casey Mears was hired Wednesday to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, earning a seat with one of NASCAR's top teams. The move had been widely expected since last week, when Mears informed car owner Chip Ganassi he would not be coming back in 2007 on the same day Brian Vickers asked to be released from his Hendrick contract. Mears and Vickers will finish this season with their current teams. Mears had insisted he wanted to renew his deal with Ganassi. But when the No. 25 Chevrolet opened up, he quickly changed his mind. His new job will team him with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, points leader Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Mears, the 28-year-old nephew of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, is very close friends with Gordon and Johnson -- he served in Johnson's wedding party two years ago -- but has a season-long feud running with Busch.
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