Monday, July 18, 2011

Mike Bliss: Racing is all he knows

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

Mike Bliss has a winning history, he was the 2002 Truck Series Champion. He won that season working with Mike Smith and Dave Fuge; the same guys he’s now working with at TriStar Motorsports in their Nationwide Series program. He is now driving their No. 19 Chevrolet.

“I guess it’s gone good, it’s not as good as we all want it,” Bliss said about his 2011 season, “our cars seem to be pretty good, our finishes don’t seem to be good. For the situation we’re in, I think it’s been pretty good.”

Bliss ran two races this weekend in Loudon, on Saturday in Nationwide he qualified in 20th and finished in 14th; a good ride considering the unfortunate accident that happened on Thursday. While unloading cars, the gate to his hauler unlatched and the car fell off the trailer and “the trailer took the brunt of it,” he said and although the car fell to its side, it didn’t “hurt the cars handling or anything like that.”

He does like racing at NHMS; with a flatter 7 degree bank, it’s not just another mile in a half track. “I like these race tracks that are different," Bliss says, “It’s like Kentucky was really really rough. but it just brings character” to the track when they are different.

Bliss has the chance to race in Sprint Cup Series, unlike many Nationwide Series drivers who are honing their skills. When asked if there was an advantage or disadvantage to the Nationwide regular drivers with Sprint Cup he explained, “I don’t think it’s so much the drivers are getting it; it’s the Nationwide teams that are associated with the Cup teams, the Gibbs, the Carl Edwards Roush Fenway deals. That’s more than just drivers getting time on the track, they get information off the Cup guys over there before they come to the track they help their cars. It helps a little bit. But we’ve been here for so many years we pretty much know the way the race track is going to act.”

Out of all the series he’s raced for, he’s never had the chance to race IRL. Even though he's tested the cars he hasn't raced them and would love to try it, just like he would go back to truck racing.

For Sprint Cup, he raced the No. 32 Starrett Corporation Ford for Frank Stoddard, “it’s not a big healthy budgeted team and the goal is finish 25th. That (would) be awesome.” Bliss qualified 41st and finished 32nd. Racing in Cup is mainly to help the team owner. He doesn’t think he’ll get a chance to race permanently in Cup team because of his age.

Bliss has raced for many series and teams. In a bigger team, he wants more, if he’s running 15th, he wants to run 10th. For a smaller team, “you just have to accept where you’re at.”

As for draft racing he says “If we never did do this draft racing, we’d still be bitching about...The one on one deal is alright and we’re not gonna change that unless NASCAR changes it but, the pack racing wears you out mentally more than the two cars together. It’s not good for fans. We’re here to put on a show and pack racing, big packs, is better racing.”

Bliss says racing has become a “survival.” He has stayed in racing through the thick and thin because “I’ve been doing this since I was ten years old. I never went to college or anything,” he said, he doesn’t know anything else and he loves the lifestyle of racing. “The competition, that beating the other person, I’ve always been involved in sports and I’ve always been competitive." The alternative to racing could be sitting at a desk and that’s one big reason he’s stayed in the sport.

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