HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 19, 1999) A.J. Foyt and Conseco announced Friday that Team Conseco has selected NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series star Mike Bliss to drive its NASCAR Winston Cup Series car for the 2000 season. After reviewing the credentials of...
HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 19, 1999) A.J. Foyt and Conseco announced Friday that Team Conseco has selected NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series star Mike Bliss to drive its NASCAR Winston Cup Series car for the 2000 season.
After reviewing the credentials of a number of drivers, Foyt picked the veteran to drive Team Conseco's No.14 Pontiac. He said he likes the way Bliss drives.
"To put this team together, we're trying to do over a year's prep in six months," Foyt said. "We have put together a first-class team. I watched Mike in some of the truck races, and he ran strong. I thought, 'he could be kind of a dark horse out there.' And I think he'll take people by surprise next year."
Bliss comes to Team Conseco following five successful seasons in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Bliss, who has posted seven wins and 35 top-5 finishes during his series career, also has excelled in many types of open-wheel cars: sprints, midgets and supermodifieds. The Milwaukie, Ore. native said that there aren't many new NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams he would have joined for his rookie season.
Bliss makes the jump to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series after five straight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series seasons in which he finished in the top-10 and won at least one race each year. In 1999, he won at Topeka, captured three Bud Pole Awards (setting new track records at Martinsville and at Pikes Peak), and finished in the top five six times.
During the 1998 season, Bliss won twice and posted five top-5 finishes. In 1997, Bliss won one race and crossed the finish line in the top-5 11 times. During his second season, he won two races and posted eight top-5s. In 1995, Bliss won one race and had five top-5 finishes.
"A.J. knows that when I get in a race car, I want to win," Bliss said. "I am very excited about working with A.J. He's a true racer and a legend. A.J.'s someone that we've all looked up to, and he's focused on building a winning team."
During the 2000 season, Bliss will be supported by a crew of NASCAR veterans who will bring extensive experience to the young team. Waddell Wilson, general manager of Team Conseco, is one of the most respected people in the garage. During his career, he has worked as an engine builder, crew chief, team manager and general manager. Wilson-built engines are credited with three championships, and he has collected seven Daytona 500 victories as either engine builder or crew chief.
Wilson believes Bliss has what it takes to succeed.
"With Mike's history, with the cars he's driven, and his success with the trucks, he'll be a good driver for us," Wilson said. "He has the right attitude and experience to make a great driver."