CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – 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.

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.

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.

AP-ES-05-23-09 2342EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.