Memphis: CJM Racing race report

CJM Racing Leads Most Laps and Collects Fifth Top-Five Finish for Hottest Team in NASCAR Nationwide Series (October 24, 2009) Memphis, Tenn. -- CJM Racing continues to be one of the best teams over the past two months in the NASCAR ...

CJM Racing Leads Most Laps and Collects Fifth Top-Five Finish for Hottest Team in NASCAR Nationwide Series

(October 24, 2009) Memphis, Tenn. -- CJM Racing continues to be one of the best teams over the past two months in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Mike Bliss finished fourth in Saturday's Kroger On Track for The Cure 250 at the Memphis Motorsports Park in Memphis, Tenn., and led the most laps in the event. Only a late-race restart kept the team from winning the event.

Once again CJM Racing came to the track and unloaded with a very quick Toyota Camry. Bliss was blistering fast during Friday's practice sessions and put CJM Racing and the RIDEMAKERZ sponsored machine in great position to collect their first pole. The No. 11 Toyota was fastest in the first practice and seventh in the final practice session. The team had high hopes going into Saturday's qualifying and race events.

Qualifying was held Saturday morning and CJM Racing took to the track 30th for qualifying. Bliss continued his fast times around the short, flat Memphis oval and qualified sixth overall. Bliss, however, knew that the race was when the team would show their best efforts.

"Yeah, we were really, really strong on race runs in practice," said Bliss. "We didn't have enough speed to get a pole, but the car is going to be good for the race."

Bliss was interviewed live by ESPN2 after qualifying showcasing the strengths of CJM Racing, especially the past seven weeks where CJM Racing has finished seventh or higher four times including a pair of runner-up finishes. CJM Racing was primed to capture their first win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

In an early afternoon start, teams lined up under sunny skies and a beautiful day for a Nationwide Series short-track event. Memphis Motorsports Park has always had a reputation for tight racing and thus producing many accidents and yellow flags. It didn't disappoint on Saturday. Only moments into the event a six-car wreck was followed only laps later by another multi-car wreck. Five caution flags flew before the race was 100 laps old. The caution periods didn't slow Bliss.

Bliss, starting sixth, took only 36 laps to take the lead for the first time. Bliss was just as fast as he was in the practice sessions and had no problems taking the lead and gaining a four-second lead. The team came down pit road for their first pit stop of the day for four tires and fuel. With a fast stop, Bliss was out only behind cars that didn't pit. On lap 86, Bliss retook the lead and opened up another large lead and dominated the race past the 125-lap mark when the next caution came out and the team came down pit road.

CJM Racing lost one position on pit road taking four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. The next run Bliss had to battle Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski for the lead. It didn't take too long for Bliss to retake the lead from Busch, and Bliss once again started to pull away from the field. Carl Edwards was the only driver to track down Bliss, but then a caution flag flew on lap 155 that bunched the field again with most of the leaders electing not to pit.

On the restart Edwards took the lead over Bliss, and a few laps later Keselowski bumped Bliss off the racing groove sending him back several key positions. The same lap a red flag was brought out for a hard crash by Eric McClure. McClure was checked and released from the infield care center. Bliss then had to restart eighth after the contact, but soon was in third behind Edwards and Busch by lap 170. Bliss came back to second before the final 15 laps became a shootout after a wreck that took Edwards out of contention.

The double-file restart was the death of the CJM effort at the end of the race. Bliss was lined up third behind two slower cars and in great position. Bliss, however, was blocked in behind the two slower cars and fell several spots to eighth after Keselowski pushed him up behind the slow cars. Two more cautions came out in the final 10 laps, allowing Bliss to come from eighth to fourth in a green-white-checkered finish.

"It's nice not to be happy about fourth," said Bliss. "It's disappointing to be fourth after giving away the win. But, really, I'm happy for fourth and a good finish. We had a great RIDEMAKERZ Toyota all day. I'm thankful for everyone involved today."

-credit: cjmr

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Drivers Mike Bliss , Carl Edwards , Eric McClure , Brad Keselowski