Bliss building momentum late

Updated: October 29, 2004, 5:35 PM ET
SportsTicker

HAMPTON, Ga. -- After breaking through for his first Busch Series win at Lowe's Motor Speedway two weeks ago, Mike Bliss is in a position for more.

Driving in foggy and hazy conditions, Bliss on Friday drove a Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the pole for Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 188.867 mph around the 1.54-mile oval.

It was his third pole in 2004 and first since Daytona in July.

"In racing, that first win is always the hardest to win, no matter what series you are in," Bliss said. "The win at Charlotte changed the attitude at our shop. I don't know if it helped or hurt. It couldn't have been a better win."

Bliss, who has not been notified by Joe Gibbs Racing on whether he will be retained for next year, is exploring other opportunities but admitted he would like to continue to build a winning program.

"I'm letting them decide what they want to do for next year," Bliss said. "I'm thinking about some other things. I'd be a fool to go and give up on this. We've got some great things going. It breaks my heart a little bit that I might not be back but if they decided tomorrow, I hope it's not too late for me to do something else."

Martin Truex Jr., who holds a 208-point lead over Kyle Busch in the battle for the 2004 Busch title, will join Bliss on the front row Saturday after recording a lap of 188.642 mph in a DEI Chevrolet.

Truex's lap appeared fast enough for his circuit-leading eighth pole of the season before Bliss took the track.

"Today's a foggy a day, the race track isn't fast, we're just trying for race setup," Bliss said. "I really liked the balance of it. When we did our attempt in qualifying and practice, I knew the car would go faster. I knew I had to hold it wide open out there. It took some nerve to hold the foot down all the way around here."

Nextel Cup regular Kevin Harvick was third in a Chevrolet, followed by Busch's in a Chevrolet. Casey Mears' Dodge rounded out the top five.

Jamie McMurray was the last driver to make the field based on speed with a lap at 181.366 mph in a Dodge. He will start 38th.

Greg Biffle, the the defending winner of this race, will start 10th after recording a lap of 186.811 mph in a Ford.

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