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Timely rain gives Bliss Nationwide win

Mike Bliss was leading when it counted
Saturday, May 23, 2009

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Mike Bliss celebrates winning the Carquest Auto Parts 300. The victory was the second in Bliss' NASCAR Nationwide Series career.
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Superior fuel mileage got Mike Bliss out front late in Saturday night's Carquest Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Rain did the rest. Three laps after Bliss took the lead from runner-up Brendan Gaughan on Lap 167, NASCAR red-flagged the race because of rain and made Bliss' win official by calling the event 30 laps short of its scheduled distance of 200 laps.

Bliss' only other win in the series also came at Charlotte, on Oct. 15, 2004. The second-place finish was a career-best for Gaughan.

Where Kyle Busch charged to the front after changing an engine, Bliss used fuel mileage to compensate for his engine change. He and Gaughan were the only two drivers who remained on the track during a cycle of green-flag pit stops that started on Lap 144.

"We stayed out as long as we could, and it paid off," said Bliss, who gave team owner James Finch his second unlikely victory in a month. Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Talladega in April driving a car owned by Finch and powered by a Hendrick Motorsports engine. "I knew we had a pretty good car in practice and kind of worked our way into the top 10. We stretched our fuel mileage quite a bit, and that's why I'm here, I guess."

Asked whether he felt as if he had stolen the race, Bliss chuckled, "Yeah, I did -- but from a guy who wins too much (Busch) -- and nobody likes him."

Gaughan felt he had an eighth-to-12th-place car but wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"The only thing that could have been better for us was for (the rain) to come about three laps earlier, after we passed Mike Bliss," said Gaughan, who got past Bliss in traffic on Lap 165 but surrendered the lead two laps later.

The two best cars in the race, the Toyotas of Busch and Brian Vickers, finished third and fourth. Busch led a race-high 98 laps after streaking from the rear of the field to the front in the first 41 laps. Joey Logano was fifth, followed by Jason Leffler, David Ragan and Keselowski.

Jeff Burton and polesitter Carl Edwards completed the top 10.

Busch made short work of the rest of the field as he motored up to eighth in the running order before Michael Annett's spin in Turn 2 brought out the yellow flag on Lap 23.

Eleven laps after a restart on Lap 30, Busch passed Edwards for the lead and held it until he came to the pits under green of Lap 86. Busch regained the top spot after the cycle of stops and remained out front until Vickers overtook him on Lap 140.

Vickers came to the pits under green on Lap146, returning the lead to Busch, who stopped for tires and fuel three laps later. When caution flew for the fourth time for Kevin Hamlin's spin in Turn 2 on Lap 153, Bliss was the only driver who hadn't stopped for service, and as such, his No. 1 Chevrolet was the only car on the lead lap.

Busch was third, at the tail end of the lead lap, for a restart on Lap 161, with Bliss in the lead but restarting 12th in the order behind 11 tail-end cars. That left Bliss and Gaughan to battle for the lead, with Bliss regaining the top position two laps before rain caused the fifth caution of the evening on Lap 169.

Busch expanded his lead over Edwards in the Nationwide Series standings from 37 to 73 points.

"You could say it was a good points day, but we want wins," Busch said.

Results

Fin

Str Car Driver Team Laps Status
1 10 1 Mike Bliss Miccosukee Indian Gaming & Resort Chevrolet 170 Running
2 15 62 Brendan Gaughan # 5-Hour Energy Drink Chevrolet 170 Running
3 2 18 Kyle Busch NOS Energy Drink Toyota 170 Running
4 5 32 Brian Vickers Dollar General Toyota 170 Running
5 12 20 Joey Logano GameStop Toyota 170 Running
6 28 38 Jason Leffler Great Clips Toyota 170 Running
7 4 6 David Ragan Discount Tire Ford 170 Running
8 40 88 Brad Keselowski GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 170 Running
9 9 29 Jeff Burton Holiday Inn Chevrolet 170 Running
10 1 60 Carl Edwards Scotts Ford 170 Running
11 14 99 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota 170 Running
12 3 16 Greg Biffle CitiFinancial Ford 170 Running
13 13 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Klondike Chevrolet 170 Running
14 38 12 Justin Allgaier # Verizon Wireless Dodge 169 Running
15 7 42 David Gilliland nexusnews.org / Smith Iron Works Dodge 169 Running
16 22 27 Jason Keller Scott Products / Walmart Ford 169 Running
17 17 66 Steve Wallace USfidelis Chevrolet 169 Running
18 27 28 Kenny Wallace US Border Patrol Chevrolet 169 Running
19 29 24 Eric McClure Hefty Ford 169 Running
20 6 47 Michael McDowell # Tom's Snacks Toyota 169 Running
21 20 98 Paul Menard Richmond / Menards Ford 169 Running
22 41 10 Burney Lamar Dollar General Toyota 169 Running
23 8 33 Kevin Harvick VFW Chevrolet 168 Running
24 30 01 Danny O'Quinn Jr. Sun Drop Chevrolet 168 Running
25 11 31 Stanton Barrett Circle K / Thirst Buster Chevrolet 168 Running
26 36 34 Tony Raines Long John Silver's Chevrolet 168 Running
27 26 50 Jeremy Clements Saxon Group Chevrolet 168 Running
28 25 40 Scott Wimmer StopRepairBills.com Chevrolet 168 Running
29 32 61 Brandon Whitt Ford Racing Ford 167 Running
30 39 26 Brian Keselowski Schweitzer Title Dodge 167 Running
31 16 77 Peyton Sellers # SFP Chevrolet 167 Running
32 23 11 Scott Lagasse Jr. # America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota 166 Running
33 37 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Mahindra Tractors Chevrolet 166 Running
34 43 73 Derrike Cope FlipNbags.com Dodge 164 Running
35 21 81 Kevin Hamlin D.H. Griffin / Go 'Canes Dodge 147 Accident
36 35 87 Joe Nemechek LubePro's.com Chevrolet 147 Engine
37 31 19 J C Stout Chevrolet 143 Running
38 33 96 Dennis Setzer Dusty's Collision Dodge 28 Vibration
39 24 15 Michael Annett # Pilot Travel Centers Toyota 22 Accident
40 18 91 Terry Cook # MSRP Motorsports Chevrolet 14 Overheating
41 19 0 Mark Green Lowery Plumbing Chevrolet 11 Electrical
42 34 90 Johnny Chapman MSRP Motorsports Chevrolet 10 Handling
43 42 07 Donny Lia SK Motorsports Toyota 1 Ignition

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