Martinsville: Mike Bliss race report

MIKE BLISS AND BAM RACING TEAM CONTINUE TO CLIMB IN OWNER POINT STANDINGS Team moves up a total of seven positions in just three starts following Martinsville race MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 1, 2007) -- The key to a successful run at Martinsville...

MIKE BLISS AND BAM RACING TEAM CONTINUE TO CLIMB IN OWNER POINT STANDINGS
Team moves up a total of seven positions in just three starts following Martinsville race

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 1, 2007) -- The key to a successful run at Martinsville Speedway, the shortest track on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit, is to avoid trouble and still be racing when the checkered flag waves. That was the goal of Mike Bliss and the BAM Racing team who continue to climb through the ranks of the owner point standings following Martinsville. In just three starts, the organization has gained seven positions and is currently 75 points outside of the top-35 in the owner point standings.

With 49 teams entered in the Goody's Cool Orange 500, the team focused on qualifying runs during Friday's only practice session prior to qualifying for Sunday's race. At the end of the session, Bliss was listed in the 45th position posting a fast lap time of 20.362 seconds at a speed of 92.997 miles per hour. The team quickly went to work making adjustments to the No. 49 OBOVO.com Dodge in an effort to improve on-track performance for qualifying.

Bliss was the 40th competitor to take the track and posted a fast lap time of 20.313 seconds at a speed of 93.221 miles per hour. The effort secured the team a 39th place starting position for the race and marked its third consecutive start of the season.

As racing action was set to begin, crew chief Lee McCall reminded his driver of the challenges of Martinsville Speedway.

"The name of the game here is to take care of your brakes and be there at the end," radioed McCall. "Be nice and smooth and hit your marks."

It only took five laps of racing before the first of 13 caution periods came out. Without enough time to see how the racecar was handling, the team opted not to make a pit stop. When the next caution came out on lap 39, Bliss was running in the 35th position and radioed that the No. 49 Dodge was loose on the throttle.

In an effort to alleviate the loose condition, Bliss came to pit road for right-side tires and fuel, as well as air pressure and wedge adjustments. The team then opted to have Bliss return to pit road for left-side tires. He restarted the race in the 35th position on the lead lap.

Although Bliss posted competitive lap times, the OBOVO.com Dodge Avenger remained on the loose side. The team made a series of adjustments over subsequent caution periods with little success.

"We'll keep digging here," McCall radioed his driver. "We've still got a long, long way to go. I know you've got your hands full. We're going to keep working on it."

By the mid-point of the race, Bliss was running in the 37th position four laps down to the leader. Several of the other teams outside of the top-35 in owner points had also experienced problems. The No. 84, No. 22 and No. 36 cars were all involved in accidents in the first half of the race with the No. 44 car involved in a late-race incident. All cars were ultimately able to return to the track.

Cloudy skies had loomed overhead all day long, and a rain shower caused a red flag delay for just over half an hour. The team took the opportunity to talk over options to improve the No. 49 Dodge. When racing action resumed, the team pitted for adjustments only and Bliss restarted the race on lap 363 in the 33rd position running six laps down.

Bliss reported that the racecar was now tight and the team used remaining pit stops to try different adjustments and learn more about the Car of Tomorrow.

When the checkered flag waved, Bliss finished the race in 30th place and the BAM Racing team moved up one position in the owner point standings to 40th place.

"Teams will have days like these when you just have an off race," commented Bliss. "We weren't able to really improve our racecar but we were able to finish the race and learn as much as we could for the next race here. We aren't disappointed because we qualified for the race and gained a position in the owner point standings. Overall, the weekend could've been a lot worse."

The NEXTEL Cup Series will have the Easter weekend off before heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung 500.

-credit: bam racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Mike Bliss