Martinsville: Mike Bliss race report

Mike Bliss Brings Home Top-15 Finish in Rain-Postponed Martinsville Race Mike Bliss survived the caution-filled Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway, racing the No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet to a 15th place finish in the rain-postponed ...

Mike Bliss Brings Home Top-15 Finish in Rain-Postponed Martinsville Race

Mike Bliss survived the caution-filled Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway, racing the No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet to a 15th place finish in the rain-postponed event.

Laying down a qualifying lap time of 20.961 early on Saturday morning, Mike Bliss took the green flag at Martinsville Speedway from the 32nd position two days later after rain forced NASCAR to reschedule the event for Monday afternoon. With 500 laps of Goodyear rubber on the track after Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the track had changed significantly from practice and time-trials.

With a loose truck in qualifying, the team was anticipating a loose condition at the start of the race and made pre-race adjustments accordingly, but the .526-mile paperclip was completely different from the green track two days before, and adjustments made were in the wrong direction. Fortunately, the caution flag waved early and often, which allowed the team to make adjustments throughout the day.

The No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet improved significantly after track bar and air pressure adjustments in the first few cautions of the race, allowing Bliss to fight his way into the top-25. By lap 106, Bliss had cracked the top-20 and was continuing to improve, despite having contact which damaged the nose and hurt the truck's aerodynamics.

With 108 laps remaining in the race, Bliss was running 17th and was already named one of the biggest movers of the race, improving 15 positions over the course of the day. Bliss continued to run in the top-20 for the duration of the race, avoiding the frequent spins and wrecks which plagued his competitors.

Taking the final green flag of the day, Bliss restarted 18th for the green/white/checkered finish. With one final opportunity to rally, Bliss was able to maneuver the No. 40 into the 15th position by the time the race was ended under yet another caution. The top-15 finish significantly helped the Key Motorsports truck in the standings, bumping the No. 40 up three positions to 18th in points.

"The truck was a lot different today after the Cup race than it was in qualifying, so we were searching for the right setup, but everybody on this team was excellent today," said Bliss. "Gary kept making changes to make our Westerman Companies Chevy better all day, and our pit crew really did their job, so we were able to take a qualifying run that wasn't very good, and turn it into a decent finish. I also have to thank the fans for coming back here today and for sticking it out in the rain waiting for us to start on Saturday."

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hits the track again on Saturday, April 25th in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.

-credit: km

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Bliss