Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Saturday night Mother Nature interfered with the race at the beginning and the end. The race started late and under caution because the track was wet after an afternoon rain. Once the race started, Carl Edwards ran away from the pack for the first 24 laps. There was a caution on lap 23, and when the leaders came to pit lane, Kenny Wallace stayed out to lead for three laps. When the race went back green, Edwards was back in the lead and held onto it for 13 more laps before Kyle Busch took over the point. Busch had started at the back of the pack due to an engine change on Thursday. Busch led for 45 laps until a round of green-flag pit stops. During that set of stops Mike Bliss took the lead for two laps. Brendan Gaughan then took the lead for two laps before Busch went back to the point.
Busch maintained the lead for the next 50 laps until the next round of green-flag pit stops. When Busch pitted, Brian Vickers took the lead for six laps and then Busch took the lead again for three laps, lost it to Jason Leffler for a lap and then Bliss took it over and was in the lead when a caution flag flew. The end result was that Bliss and Gaughan were the only cars on the lead lap and restarted with seven cars in front of them on the final restart. Bliss was able to lead for the remainder of the race until the rain fell.
Busch was clearly the dominant car of the race but his luck has just not been very good over the last couple of weeks in any series. During the post-race press conference Busch bemoaned his bad luck. He noted that he had bad luck in the Truck race last week, his adjustments during the All-Star Race caused him to not be able to win that race, his week at Darlington was subpar, and they tore up two cars at Talladega. He hopes that things will get better soon. Even with his bad luck, Busch still leads the points battle by 73 over Edwards.
Bliss stated that his car was a third- or fourth-place car, but their fuel mileage seemed to be just a little bit better than everyone else’s and that turned out to be the difference for the night. He admitted that he stole a race, but he felt like he’d lost a couple of races that way in the past. Bliss also spoke about starting at the back of the pack. He attempted to follow Busch to the front of the pack, but Kyle was simply faster and Bliss’s car tightened up when he was in some traffic.
Bliss’s crew chief Mark Reno was also in the post-race news conference. He could not explain why his car had better gas mileage than everyone else this evening. He said it was the first time all year that they got better mileage than the No. 88 and the No. 5. They did do a motor change after practice, and the engine that they put in the car had been in the truck for a while… so Reno explained it may have had a little better mileage than the current engines.
This is Bliss’s second Nationwide victory. The other win was also at Charlotte in the fall of 2004.
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