Atlanta: Mike Bliss race report

Mike Bliss Finishes 24th at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Hampton, GA) March 7, 2010 -- Mike Bliss drove the No. 36 Wave Energy Drink Chevrolet to a solid 24th place finish in today's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The finish marked the...

Mike Bliss Finishes 24th at Atlanta Motor Speedway

(Hampton, GA) March 7, 2010 -- Mike Bliss drove the No. 36 Wave Energy Drink Chevrolet to a solid 24th place finish in today's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The finish marked the second top-25 effort for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team so far in the early stages of the 2010 season.

Under picture perfect skies, the teams took the green flag with Bliss starting in the 30th spot. The race was only three laps old when the first of many cautions on the day flew for a single car incident. Bliss reported that the car was loose and the race track was very slick. The team's second pit stop of the day occurred on lap 80, following the fourth caution. Crew Chief Kevin Buskirk called for a track bar adjustment and air pressure change to tighten the car for the next run.

Bliss cracked the top-30 running order on lap 153 and just ahead of the sixth caution of the day. Buskirk wisely kept Bliss out on the track instead of pitting and the No. 36 Wave Energy Drink Chevrolet led lap 160 for five extra bonus points. Bliss then pitted and restarted the event from the 26th spot, the last car on the lead lap.

By lap 200, Bliss was inside the top-25 for the first time all day, but the car was getting a bit loose in the corners. On lap 206, Bliss briefly went one lap down to then leader Kasey Kahne, but the team would get their lap back later in the event. Bliss ran solidly between 29th and 24th place for the next 100 laps, doing a masterful job of keeping the car together in the high banked turns.

On lap 292, Bliss and the team had a scare when the race restarted. Two cars got together just in front of the No. 36 Wave Energy Drink Chevrolet and Bliss had to go low on the track to miss the two cars bouncing off the outside wall under the flag stand. Team spotter Mike Brown guided Bliss out of harms' way in an instant and the car was safe.

As the laps wound down, the team pitted for the final time, taking on four tires and enough fuel to make it to the finish. But the race actually had many more laps to go than advertised. With about five laps to go in the race, a huge accident erupted on the front stretch as Carl Edwards got together with rookie Brad Keselowski and sent him hard into the outside wall--and upside down. Keselowski was taken to the infield care center and NASCAR ordered Edwards to park his car for the rest of the race.

Bliss restarted the race for the final time on lap 339 of what was supposed to be 325 laps. The race ended three laps later with Kurt Busch taking the checkered flag. He was followed to the line by Matt Kenseth, Juan Pablo-Montoya, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five finishers on the day. The Wave Energy Drink team ended up 24th in the final run down, heading into the first "off-weekend" of the year.

"That was a tough race," said Bliss, after climbing from his car. "We really worked at it today to get the car handling right and we were able to stay out of trouble. The guys worked really hard on pit road, up in the spotter's stand and on the pit box. Thanks to Wave Energy Drink for all their support. I hope our finish today gives us a nice boost in the points," he added.

Bliss would turn out to be correct, as the team jumped three spots in the owner points to 34th overall, with one race remaining before all teams switch over to 2010 points. If the Tommy Baldwin race team can remain inside the top-35, they will be locked into the upcoming events, so long as they maintain their owner point position.

-source: tommy baldwin racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Kasey Kahne , Mike Bliss , Paul Menard , Brad Keselowski , Tommy Baldwin
Teams Tommy Baldwin Racing