Bliss Blisters Kroger 225 Ncts Field At Kentucky Speedway
Mike Bliss blistered tonight's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 225 field at Kentucky Speedway while racing to his second straight series victory by an all-time track and series record 18.198- seconds margin of victory over Dennis Setzer.
"We unloaded a great truck," Bliss said. "It was perfect and there wasn't much we could do."
His record setting run was aided by an all-time series Kentucky Speedway low 12 caution laps and the 76-lap green flag run that closed out the race. Even more impressive, Bliss turned in a history-making performance with a broken nose he sustained crashing into an unpadded center field fence while tracking down a fly ball in an exhbition softball game the pitted drivers against the ESPN television crew on Thursday at Northern Kentucky Univ.
Bliss (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight/Knights Inn Chevrolet) led 94 of 100 race laps, but was forced to regain the race lead with 10 laps remaining after late race pit stops shuffled the field.
Several of the lead trucks rolled in for service with 40 laps to go and allowed Setzer (No. 46 Acxiom/Computer Associates Chevrolet) to take over the lead. He lost the top spot to Coy Gibbs by ptting for fuel with 19 laps left.
Gibbs (No. 20 MBNA Chevrolet) was hoping for a caution that never came and was forced to transfer the lead back to Bliss at the end of an 87 lap run.
Bliss would punch the pedal and race away to his third win of the season and 10th of his career.
"Everything went our way tonight," Bliss said. "We knew they had to come in, but if we would have had a yellow, they would have had an advantage. Fortunately, everything worked in our favor."
Bliss won tonight in the same truck that took him to victory last week in Kansas. He entered the weekend second in the series points standings and 61 points behind leader and ninth-place "Kroger 225" finisher Ted Musgrave. Tonight's victory leaves Bliss just 14 points shy of the championship lead and earns a winner's check of $75,800.
Setzer was pleased with his overall effort.
"The track has done a great job getting ready for this year," Setzer said of the Kentucky Speedway 1.5 mile tri-oval that was resurfaced in May. "Track surface and tires go hand-in-hand. We had 105 laps on the last set of tires we used in the race. We had faster lap times for laps 140-145 (than earlier in the race)."
Robert Pressley (No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge) finished third, Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) was fourth and pole sitter Jason Leffler (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Racing Dodge) placed fifth. Gibbs rallied back from his late pit stop to finish seventh.
Racing returns to Kentucky Speedway Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11 with the the Indy Racing League "Belterra Casino Indy 300" and NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series "84 WHAS 150." \
Phone 1-888-652-RACE or visit www.kentuckyspeedway.com for full event and ticket information.