Concord, NC (October 16, 2009) -- CJM Racing continues to assert themselves as one of the NASCAR Nationwide Series' top teams. Driving the No. 11 RIDEMAKERZ Toyota, Mike Bliss charged from his 11th-place starting position to finish runner-up in ...
Concord, NC (October 16, 2009) -- CJM Racing continues to assert themselves as one of the NASCAR Nationwide Series' top teams. Driving the No. 11 RIDEMAKERZ Toyota, Mike Bliss charged from his 11th-place starting position to finish runner-up in Friday night's Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Bliss' performance marked his second consecutive second-place finish with CJM Racing, and his second consecutive top-five at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
CJM Racing and Bliss had high expectations heading into the race. CJM Racing has recorded three top-10 finishes in the last six events, including a second-place run with Bliss at Dover International Speedway. Bliss is the defending champion of the Lowe's Motor Speedway Nationwide Series event and has one additional victory at the track. Both driver and team knew all the elements were in place for a banner event.
Bliss and crew were encouraged from the get-go. The RIDEMAKERZ Toyota completed the practice session with a best lap of 29.667 seconds, the fastest circuit of the 49 teams entered in the race. Bliss backed his practice laps up at time trials with a solid run, rounding the 1.5-mile speedway in 29.602 seconds (182.420 mph). Bliss' qualifying lap placed him 11th on the starting grid.
ESPN2 recognized CJM Racing's potential for a strong showing and interviewed Bliss during the pre-race ceremonies before he hopped in his race car. When the race got under way, Bliss held strong in the top 10. His car was "getting tighter, but really good overall." Paul Wolfe called Bliss into the pits on lap 58 for a green-flag stop. The crew performed routine service, along with an air pressure adjustment to loosen up the No. 11 machine, before sending Bliss back on the track.
The yellow flag waved on lap 62 before the leaders made their pit stops. The good news for Bliss was that he didn't fall a lap down. The bad news is that he lined up in 21st place at the tail end of the field for the ensuing restart.
Green flag resumed action on lap 68. Before the field completed one lap, a multi-car accident brought the caution flag out again. The incident developed directly in front of Bliss, who dropped to the apron of the track to narrowly avoid getting collected in the carnage. Bliss made a trip down pit lane, where his crew changed his tires, topped off the fuel cell and checked his car for damage. With a clean report, Bliss rejoined the field in 17th place.
The race went green on lap 78. Bliss methodically worked his way through the field. He claimed the sixth position before the field began cycling through green-flag pit stops. Bliss made his stop on lap 135. The RIDEMAKERZ Camry was "a little tight in, tight off" so the crew changed the tires, filled the fuel cell and made a track-bar adjustment. Bliss returned to competition in sixth place.
A caution flag bunched the field up on lap 148. Bliss told Wolfe that he had "better entry" and was "all good now." Bliss' report gave Wolfe the confidence to leave his driver on the track and not pit during the caution period.
On lap 153, the race returned to green. Bliss used the remaining 47 laps to propel his way up the leader board. Bliss cracked the top five on lap 154 and drove his way into second place on lap 188. Bliss was running equivalent lap times to the leader, Kyle Busch, but couldn't run him down before the checkered flag.
CJM Racing's performance moved them up to 16th-place in the Nationwide Series owner point standings. Bliss will return in the No. 11 CJM Racing Toyota for the events at Memphis Motorsports Park and Texas Motor Speedway.
"What a great race," said Bliss after the race. "I love working with these guys. They have top-notch equipment and give me the ability to contend for a win. That's all you can ask for as a driver.
"Our RIDEMAKERZ Toyota was a little bit tight through the corners tonight. Paul Wolfe made the right adjustments and it was perfect after our last pit stop. We just didn't have enough time to catch up to Kyle (Busch). I can't wait for our next race. I've finished second in the last two races with CJM. Hopefully we'll be able to top our performance in the next two races."