Mike Bliss Wins Rain Shortened Nationwide Race
It wasn't exactly the exciting finish we have come to expect from Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Unless you're Mike Bliss.
Bliss, who came from the rear of the field after an engine change on Thursday, benefited when rain started to fall at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, with 33 laps remaining in the event.
NASCAR brought the cars down pit road and threw the red flag with 30 laps remaining. NASCAR made repeated attempts to dry the track, but lost the track after persistent rains continued.
Bliss calls the first rain shortened Nationwide Series event at Lowe's Motor Speedway his second career win in the series.
Bliss and the No. 1 Miccosukee Indian Gaming & Resort Chevrolet team used fuel strategy and a carefully placed caution during green-flag pit stops to catch most of the field a lap down.
“We started at the back, we changed a motor,” said Bliss after the race in his post-race press conference. "We stayed out as long as we could, and it paid off. 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."
Brendan Gaughan finished the race second as the highest finishing rookie of the race. Gaughan and Bliss battled back-and-forth for the lead just a few laps before the rain showers moved into the area. This is Gaughan's career best finish, improving his series career record to one top-five and four top-10s.
“I don't know how we did it," Gaughan said. "We had a decent 5-Hour Energy Chevy to start the race. I think we got into like 12th or 14th, in that range somewhere, and pitted and everything was fine. And came onto pit road under green and caught the caution while we were there, so we still stay on the lead lap.
“I'm not going to say we were a second-place Chevrolet tonight. I'm going to say we were an eighth to 12th-place race car. But you know what? It doesn't matter what we think it would have been. That board [the scoring pylon] shows that the 5-Hour Energy finished second.”
Kyle Busch, who also was sent to the rear of the field for the start of the race after changing an engine early on Thursday, finished third.
“It was very disappointing that the guys aren't able to get to a win and celebrate themselves in Victory Lane for putting together the fastest car out there,” said Busch. “The Nos Energy Drink Toyota was good, it was fast. Circumstances just didn't hit our way tonight.”
Busch didn't take long to progress up through the field, taking the lead from Carl Edwards on lap 41, leading a field-most 98 laps in the event.
Brian Vickers finished fourth, with rookie Joey Logano rounding out the top-five.
Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Burton, and Edwards rounded out the top-10.
The third car turned out to be a charm for Keselowski, who raced back from going to the rear of the field in his third car of the weekend, after wrecking the previous two on Thursday. The car was originally prepared for a short track.
- Busch extended his lead from 43 to 73 points over Edwards.
- The race finished with 17 cars on the lead lap.
- The race contained five cautions for 26 laps.
- The race ran six laps under a green/yellow start after the start of the race was delayed for more than an hour due to rain.
- Eight cars did not finish the event.
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