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NASCAR: Bliss gets first Nationwide win since 2004

CONCORD, N.C. - Mike Bliss raced to his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory since 2004, catching a break to claim the rain-shortened event Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Bliss, who started from the back of the field, took the lead because he was in the right position when the caution flag came out with 39 laps to go.

The caution put Bliss ahead of series points leader Kyle Busch, who clearly had the car to beat most of the night. It looked as if Busch would get lucky when rain halted the race a few laps later and got him back near Bliss' bumper. But more showers came, and NASCAR officials called the Carquest Auto Parts 300 with 30 laps to go and Bliss still out front.

"I'm just tickled to death," Bliss said. "It hasn't sunk in, but I am getting there."

Nonetheless, Bliss knew he stole this one.

"Don't care," he said. "Yeah. But from a guy who is winning too much, anyway. The 18 was the best car, but (Busch) wins too much and no one likes him."

Bliss' win was the second in five weeks for owner James Finch, who picked up his first Cup victory when Brad Keselowski won at Talladega. Bliss gave Finch his 12th Nationwide win in 19 years, but first since 2005.

"This is a great month for James," Bliss said.

Bliss, the 2002 NASCAR Trucks champion, won the October 2004 race at the track for his only other Nationwide victory.

Brendan Gaughan was second, followed by Busch, Brian Vickers and Joey Logano.

It was the second consecutive disheartening finish for Busch. He had to start at the back because of an engine change, but wasted little time moving through the field. He darted by slower cars, working his way into 10th after just 17 laps - 11 of them under green-flag conditions.

He passed pole-sitter Carl Edwards on lap 40, then started pulling away. Busch ended up passing more than half the field twice, some even more.

But Busch got caught back in the field when the caution flag came out while drivers were cycling through green-flag stops. Rain didn't give him a chance to get back to the front, either.

"I'm sure people will say it's a good points day, but I'm not worried about points," Busch said. "I want wins. Just very, very frustrating to have the fastest car week in and week out and not have anything to show for it."

Busch swept both Nationwide races at Lowe's last season and was looking to make it three in row. It didn't happen.

Busch probably should have a three-race winning streak, too. He led 143 laps and looked as if he would ease to a second consecutive win two weeks ago at Darlington, but he ran over some debris, flattened a tire with two laps to go and wound up a disappointing 16th.

He had even more drama Saturday.

Bliss took advantage.

"We stayed out as long as we could, just in case something happens," Bliss said. "You never know, and it worked."

1. (10) Mike Bliss, Chevrolet, 170 laps, 110.7 rating, 190 points, $72,438.

2. (15) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 170, 88.8, 175, $51,243.

3. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 170, 140.3, 175, $38,525.

4. (5) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 170, 124.3, 165, $30,575.

5. (12) Joey Logano, Toyota, 170, 112.1, 155, $26,275.

6. (28) Jason Leffler, Toyota, 170, 112.2, 155, $30,468.

7. (4) David Ragan, Ford, 170, 105.9, 146, $22,475.

8. (40) Brad Keselowski, Chevrolet, 170, 93.7, 142, $27,943.

9. (9) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 170, 101.7, 138, $20,700.

10. (1) Carl Edwards, Ford, 170, 104.7, 139, $29,800.

11. (14) Scott Speed, Toyota, 170, 86.6, 130, $19,375.

12. (3) Greg Biffle, Ford, 170, 111.9, 127, $18,975.

13. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 170, 91.3, 124, $18,650.

14. (38) Justin Allgaier, Dodge, 169, 77.6, 121, $24,293.

15. (7) David Gilliland, Dodge, 169, 77.2, 118, $25,043.

16. (22) Jason Keller, Ford, 169, 72.4, 115, $23,718.

17. (17) Steve Wallace, Chevrolet, 169, 82.9, 112, $23,493.

18. (27) Kenny Wallace, Chevrolet, 169, 53.6, 114, $23,268.

19. (29) Eric McClure, Ford, 169, 47.7, 106, $23,193.

20. (6) Michael McDowell, Toyota, 169, 80.8, 103, $23,943.

21. (20) Paul Menard, Ford, 169, 82, 100, $16,525.

22. (41) Burney Lamar, Toyota, 169, 55.4, 97, $22,943.

23. (8) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 168, 75.7, 94, $16,875.

24. (30) Danny O'Quinn Jr., Chevrolet, 168, 65.2, 91, $22,853.

25. (11) Stanton Barrett, Chevrolet, 168, 61.7, 88, $22,968.

26. (36) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 168, 54.2, 85, $22,783.

27. (26) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 168, 55, 82, $16,280.

28. (25) Scott Wimmer, Chevrolet, 168, 62.6, 79, $22,713.

29. (32) Brandon Whitt, Ford, 167, 51.5, 76, $22,668.

30. (39) Brian Keselowski, Dodge, 167, 39.6, 73, $22,923.

31. (16) Peyton Sellers, Chevrolet, 167, 51.4, 70, $16,120.

32. (23) Scott Lagasse Jr., Toyota, 166, 55.2, 67, $22,543.

33. (37) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, 166, 34.5, 64, $22,513.

34. (43) Derrike Cope, Dodge, 164, 33.4, 61, $16,015.

35. (21) Kevin Hamlin, Dodge, accident, 147, 46.3, 58, $22,463.

36. (35) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, engine, 147, 39.8, 55, $22,443.

37. (31) J.C. Stout, Chevrolet, 143, 36.4, 52, $15,950.

38. (33) Dennis Setzer, Dodge, vibration, 28, 36, 49, $15,930.

39. (24) Michael Annett, Toyota, accident, 22, 57.5, 46, $22,378.

40. (18) Terry Cook, Chevrolet, overheating, 14, 33.6, 43, $15,840.

41. (19) Mark Green, Chevrolet, electrical, 11, 32.4, 40, $22,283.

42. (34) Johnny Chapman, Chevrolet, handling, 10, 29.8, 37, $15,790.

43. (42) Donny Lia, Toyota, ignition, 1, 30, 34, $22,196.

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Race Statistics

Winner's Average Speed: 129.096 mph.

Time of Race: 1 hour, 58 minutes, 31 seconds.

Margin of Victory: Under caution.

Caution Flags: 5 for 26 laps.

Lead Changes: 12 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C.Edwards 1-24; K.Wallace 25-27; C.Edwards 28-40; K.Busch 41-85; M.Bliss 86-87; B.Gaughan 88-89; K.Busch 90-139; B.Vickers 140-145; K.Busch 146-148; J.Leffler 149; M.Bliss 150-164; B.Gaughan 165-166; M.Bliss 167-170.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): K.Busch, 3 times for 98 laps; C.Edwards, 2 times for 37 laps; M.Bliss, 3 times for 21 laps; B.Vickers, 1 time for 6 laps; B.Gaughan, 2 times for 4 laps; K.Wallace, 1 time for 3 laps; J.Leffler, 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: 1. K.Busch, 1,714. 2. C.Edwards, 1,641. 3. J.Leffler, 1,541. 4. J.Logano, 1,495. 5. Bra.Keselowski, 1,473. 6. J.Keller, 1,296. 7. D.Ragan, 1,285. 8. B.Gaughan, 1,237. 9. M.Bliss, 1,234. 10. J.Allgaier, 1,210.

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NASCAR Driver Rating Formula

A maximum of 150 points can be attained in a race.

The formula combines the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish.