Texas: Mike Bliss race report



The #40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet unloaded from the truck ready for the Texas Motor Speedway, but Texas needed an extra two days to be ready for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series program. Storms at the track prolonged the venture producing a 20th place return.

Leading up to the event Crew Chief Gary Showalter stated, "^awe put extra shop time into making sure the car's ready," which showed an early payoff. Driver Mike Bliss made a statement by setting the seventh fastest time during the first practice, and Happy Hour was not far away with a ninth fastest scoring. Qualifying 15th on Friday night was the last activity the series conducted according to the pre-set schedule.

Rain prevented track activities on Saturday and Sunday, causing the 200-lap competition to be held under drastically different conditions on Monday afternoon, following NASCAR's Sprint Cup 500-mile event. Crisp temperatures and the consequence of a rubber-laden surface from the earlier competition are usually seen as benefits, but required hasty changes to the setup of the car within the limits of NASCAR's rules. Without any possibility of major changes or testing any adjustments, the best approach was to use conservative settings.

A competition caution provided by NASCAR early in the race allowed teams to check for major problems but did not accommodate major setup changes. Bliss kept on the lead lap until just before the second caution fell, granting the unsponsored Chevrolet the "Free Pass" on Lap 74. During the event the #40 Key Motorsports team reached a high position for the event of 14th, again losing practically no positions on the track.

The same lead-lap status was maintained beyond lap 120. Only 17 cars finished on the lead lap, and Bliss deftly avoided incidents that caused the last two cautions for a solid finish in the top-half of the field. He commented, "I'd been looking for opportunities to get around the last two competitors ahead of us for the free pass again, but we'd kept the car clean all day and our pit stall, setup were both good for long runs so I waited it out."

Talladega Superspeedway will host the next NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday, April 24, 2010. The #40 Key Motorsports program once again has a guaranteed starting position for the Aaron's 312.

-source: key motorsports

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Drivers Mike Bliss