Bliss building momentum late


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

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.