Fontana: Mike Bliss - NASCAR spotlight

Bliss happy to be racing and winning in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 29, 2002) - Heading into Saturday's American Racing Wheels 200 at California Speedway, Mike Bliss (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight/Knights Inn ...

Bliss happy to be racing and winning in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 29, 2002) - Heading into Saturday's American Racing Wheels 200 at California Speedway, Mike Bliss (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight/Knights Inn Chevrolet) is happy not only to be leading the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title chase, but to just be at the racetrack.

"This Xpress Motorsports team didn't even know if it was going to run any races after the season-opening event at Daytona and here we are leading the points," said Bliss, who won in the series' fifth race of the season at Pikes Peak International Raceway. "Our performance certainly has earned us the right to be in the hunt for the championship, but I would never have believed we would be in this position when they dropped the green flag in Daytona last February."

Bliss returned to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this year after a two-year absence. In 2000, he ran a partial NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, competing in 24 races with one top-10 finish. Bliss found himself without a ride for the 2001 season, watching the races from home.

"It's hard not to get down on yourself. Coming back to the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks this year revitalized me," said Bliss, who leads the series with five wins. "It showed me racing could still be fun, that I could still drive and I could still win."

The first NASCAR Craftsman Truck winner at California Speedway (1997), Bliss spent an off-week competing in the NASCAR Winston Cup race on Oct. 20. Bliss was filling in for Jamie McMurray, who was competing in the NASCAR Busch Series race in Memphis.

"Chip Ganassi has a first-class operation and it was a real pleasure to race with those guys. The team's goal at Martinsville was to stay on the lead lap and get a solid points finish. We accomplished that and everyone was happy with the results," said Bliss, who finished 14th in the race.

Bliss, looking for his first series championship, isn't feeling any pressure in the title run even though he leads Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford) by only 85 points. His trucks for the rest of the season are ready, and so is he.

Said Bliss, "If the other contenders are going to beat us, they'll have to do it on the track because we're not going to beat ourselves."

Not bad for a team that wasn't even sure it would be around.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rick Crawford , Jamie McMurray , Mike Bliss , Chip Ganassi