CJM Racing Earns 10th Top-10 in 2009 Season after Strong Run in Texas (November 7, 2009) Ft. Worth, Texas -- Mike Bliss piloted the No. 11 RIDEMAKERZ Toyota to a 10th-place finish during Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor...
CJM Racing Earns 10th Top-10 in 2009 Season after Strong Run in Texas
(November 7, 2009) Ft. Worth, Texas -- Mike Bliss piloted the No. 11 RIDEMAKERZ Toyota to a 10th-place finish during Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. CJM Racing collected another top-10 finish and continued their best season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The RIDEMAKERZ Toyota team first took to the track early Friday morning for two practice sessions before noon. The weather was near perfect with sunny skies and the mercury rising throughout the morning. Teams did have to manage with a stiff breeze, but it wasn't enough to stop Bliss from rounding the fast, banked oval with the seventh fastest time in the first practice session. The team made some adjustments and the No. 11 Toyota completed final practice fifth on the speed charts.
Turning their attention toward qualifying later that day, the team had to wait over five hours before they would get back on the track. At that time, the sun had set and the track conditions had changed. Bliss was early to qualifying and ended up 10th.
"The lap was alright, but the track had a lot more grip," said Bliss after qualifying. "We were a little free, but it's going to be a good car for the race."
Bliss was right about his car's performance during the race. The team never had Bliss outside the top 10 throughout the event and for most of the race he ran inside the top five and as high as third. The team was one of the best on the track over the course of long runs. The lap times for Bliss were some of best, even better than the leader when the green stayed out. It was caution flags, mostly those accumulating late in the event, that prevented CJM Racing and Bliss from another top five.
It was promising throughout the middle stages of the race that Bliss was going to battle for the win or at the least a top-three finishing position. Between laps 75 and 150, Bliss was inside the top five with crew chief Paul Wolfe calling for four tires and a slight chassis adjustment during the two caution periods and subsequent pit stops in that span.
In the last 50 laps of the race, the caution flag waved three times, forcing double-file restarts. Bliss was caught behind a group of leaders that had a poor restart on lap 172, forcing Bliss to fall back to 10th. His car wasn't as strong on short runs and the final caution left only 13 green-flag laps left, which got the best of the team. Bliss finished the race where he started, in 10th.
"We had another fast car, but had bad luck with restarts today," said Bliss. "It took a few laps for the car to come in. We ran better with older tires and long runs. The cautions just didn't help us at all. We wanted to go green at the end, but it just didn't go that way. We had a better car than where we finished."