"MILES THE MONSTER" ALLOWS ...
"MILES THE MONSTER" ALLOWS #40 STRUTMASTERS.COM CHEVROLET TO ESCAPE WITHOUT DAMAGE
"We focused on a clean, damage-free race," crew chief Gary Showalter commented, and that's what the Key Motorsports organization achieved with a 22nd place finish in Saturday's Heluva Good! 200 at Dover International Speedway. Fifteen cars were in the garage, unable to complete the grueling event.
Driver Mike Bliss had a great start to the day, propelling the #40 Strutmasters.com Chevrolet from the 31st starting position to 24th by lap 29 while every car behind him had either been lapped by the leader or gone to the garage already. Staying alert paid off just a few laps later as the competitor immediately in front of him spun a lap-down victim to bring out the first caution of the afternoon. The Oregon native navigated safely around the spinning vehicle to keep the Key Motorsports machine moving.
Long green runs on the concrete track proved to test the participants' perceptions about strategies for "chasing the track." The new, harder tire compound used at Dover this weekend in all three series, did not tighten up as much as most teams expected. "We learned what to expect for when we return in the fall," was how Showalter described it. Since making changes under green conditions would have cost the Strutmasters.com effort at least two laps at a mile-long circuit, Bliss persevered.
Cautions came and went without major incident until the restart after a lap 195 incident. The second place starter failed to come up to speed as quickly as the rest of the field, backing up competitors and leading to a the multi-car wreck. In the middle of accelerating, Bliss had the presence of mind to change tactics and actually stop on the track to avoid damage to the #40 Chevrolet from passing racers who did not heed the dangerous conditions. A red flag was needed to clean up the debris and damage from the dramatic occurrence.
After an on-track skirmish between two rival programs and a green-white-checker finish, Bliss could finally exit the Key Motorsports entry. "We expected the track to tighten up as the day wore on, but the car stayed free," the driver summed up. The solid finish in the top half of the field moves Curtis Key up one place in owner's standings, now only 6 points from the 25th position.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series enjoys a weekend off at home while the All-Star event runs, but takes on 200 laps at the 1.5 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2010 for the Tech-Net Auto Service 300.