Mike Bliss claimed his second career victory in the Nationwide Series in a rain-shortened Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The Phoenix Racing driver started from the back of the field due to an engine change and quickly made progress to put himself in contention for victory despite not looking nearly as quick as Kyle Busch, who also started from the rear due to an engine issue prior to qualifying.
Bliss got his break on lap 151 when the caution came out for an incident involving Kevin Hamlin. At the time, he was leading the race as all the top contenders had just pitted for fuel and tires under the green flag, going a lap down in the process. Rookie Brendan Gaughan, running a similar strategy to Bliss was in second place.
The pair were able to complete their stops under the caution flags and still be close to a lap ahead of Busch, who was once again the most dominant driver of the day, completing 98 laps up front.
When the race resumed with 38 laps remaining, it was a two-man fight between Bliss and Gaughan. The latter actually took the lead temporarily but Bliss regained it a couple of laps before the caution flag waved again for the final time with 32 laps remaining due to rain.
The race was red-flagged and as rain intensified, officials called it a day with 30 laps still remaining, giving Bliss his first win since 2004 in the Nationwide Series.
"We stayed out as long as we could and it paid off," Bliss said. "We had great fuel mileage. It's a Hendrick motor and blew the first one up but this one ran great. This is great. It hasn't sunk in but I'm getting there. This car was just fast."
Gaughan lamented the final caution didn't come out a couple of laps earlier while he was in the lead, although he was pleased with his best-ever result in the series, which was also the best this year for his team Rusty Wallace Inc.
"I wish we had [the caution flag] three laps earlier," said Gaughan, who recovered from being a lap down earlier in the race. "Our car was good tonight but not good enough to be second. We got lucky and Mike and I were the only guys left. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."
Kyle Busch finished third and was able to increase his lead in the standings, although a win looked in the cards for the 24-year-old once again.
It took Busch just 40 laps to get from the back of the field to the top spot, passing polesitter Carl Edwards who had dominated since the green flag waved for the first time with a slight delay due to some afternoon showers.
"I was very disappointed that we didn't get a win and the guys aren't able to celebrate themselves in victory lane for putting together the fastest car out there," Busch said. "But it was good -- it was fast and circumstances just didn't hit our way tonight...
"Third place I guess is good and as everybody else would probably say, 'It's a good points day.' I'm not worried about points -- I want wins."
Brian Vickers finished fourth after being a contender for victory, actually pitting from the lead ahead of Busch before the penultimate caution and strategies came into play.
Joey Logano rounded out the top five ahead of Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards, who now sits 73 points behind Busch in the championship.
Pos Driver Car Laps
1. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 170
2. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 170
3. Kyle Busch Toyota 170
4. Brian Vickers Toyota 170
5. Joey Logano Toyota 170
6. Jason Leffler Toyota 170
7. David Ragan Ford 170
8. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 170
9. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 170
10. Carl Edwards Ford 170
11. Scott Speed Toyota 170
12. Greg Biffle Ford 170
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 170
14. Justin Allgaier Dodge 169
15. David Gilliland Dodge 169
16. Jason Keller Ford 169
17. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 169
18. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 169
19. Eric McClure Ford 169
20. Michael McDowell Toyota 169
21. Paul Menard Ford 169
22. Burney Lamar Toyota 169
23. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 168
24. Danny O'Quinn Jr Chevrolet 168
25. Stanton Barrett Chevrolet 168
26. Tony Raines Chevrolet 168
27. Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 168
28. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 168
29. Brandon Whitt Ford 167
30. Brian Keselowski Dodge 167
31. Peyton Sellers Chevrolet 167
32. Scott Lagasse Jr Toyota 166
33. Robert Richardson Chevrolet 166
34. Derrike Cope Dodge 164
35. Kevin Hamlin Dodge 147
36. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 147
37. J C Stout Chevrolet 143
38. Dennis Setzer Dodge 28
39. Michael Annett Toyota 22
40. Terry Cook Chevrolet 14
41. Mark Green Chevrolet 11
42. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 10
43. Donny Lia Toyota 1