Mike Bliss Finishes 21st at Kansas Speedway In his final NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season for Key Motorsports, Mike Bliss came from the back of the field to give the team a solid points day at Kansas Speedway. Bliss overcame a 36th ...
Mike Bliss Finishes 21st at Kansas Speedway
In his final NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season for Key Motorsports, Mike Bliss came from the back of the field to give the team a solid points day at Kansas Speedway. Bliss overcame a 36th place starting position and worked his way into the top-15 before a pitting gamble failed to pay off, resulting in a 21st place finish.
The Key Motorsports team was off to a good start at Kansas Speedway when the No. 40 StopRepairBills.com Chevrolet ran 21st fastest in first practice, then climbed the speed charts to 13th in Happy Hour on Friday afternoon. Driver Mike Bliss hoped the Key Motorsports machine's times would continue to improve on Saturday, but a wobble in qualifying would mar an otherwise solid lap, resulting in a 36th place spot on the starting grid.
It didn't take Bliss long to move through the field once the green flag waved, and the No. 40 was running 28th by the first caution of the day on lap 3. After the early caution, a long green flag run allowed Bliss to work his way up to the 18th position, but the race leader's strong run put the No. 40 a lap down by lap 50.
As the long run continued, green flag pit stops began, and Bliss brought the StopRepairBills.com Chevy down pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 57. A spin by the No. 09 brought out the yellow only two laps later and competitors completed the pit cycle under yellow, putting Bliss in 20th when green flag racing resumed on lap 65.
Bliss maintained his position throughout the short 12-lap green flag run, earning an additional spot under caution before the field restarted from the second yellow of the day on lap 82. The next 60 laps would be consistent for Bliss, who hovered around the 20th position through a string of cautions and short green flag runs.
When the yellow flag waved for debris on lap 139, Bliss, who was still one lap down, stayed out of the pits, allowing him to be waved around the track and back onto the lead lap. Ten laps later a spin by Brian Vickers would bring out the caution yet again, allowing Bliss to bring the No. 40 into the pits and get back in synch with the rest of the field.
Restarting 22nd with a fresh set of tires and a full tank of fuel on lap 152, the No. 40 started to come to life. Surging forward to 17th, Bliss was continuing to pick off his competitors when a wreck brought out a caution on lap 184. In a bold move by crew chief Gary Showalter, the Key Motorsports team opted not to pit, but rather to stay on track for position with the hope that the race would remain green until the end.
When Bliss restarted 12th on lap 189 the team was confident that the No. 40 would continue to move through the field, but the fresh tires other teams took in the pits proved to be valuable, and the StopRepairBills.com Chevy slid back into 18th almost immediately. The yellow flag waved three laps later, providing an opportunity for Bliss to pit for tires. Unfortunately, restarting 21st with only 5 laps to go, there wasn't enough time to gain any ground, and Bliss took the checkered flag in the 21st position.
Curtis Key's No. 40 remains 23rd in the NNS owner standings after Mike Bliss' 21st place finish at Kansas Speedway. The Key Motorsports Chevrolet is now 341 points ahead of 31st place.
The next stop for the NASCAR Nationwide Series is the Copart 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, October 10th. Scott Wimmer returns to the No. 40 and will continue to drive for Key Motorsports for the remainder of the season.