Bliss interview

MIKE BLISS, NO. 27 VIAGRA PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (DOES IT HELP TO RETURN TO TRACKS FOR A SECOND TIME DURING HIS ROOKIE YEAR?) "Yeah, it has. Going back to Pocono, we went back with what we thought was a better car, everything was better and I...


(DOES IT HELP TO RETURN TO TRACKS FOR A SECOND TIME DURING HIS ROOKIE YEAR?) "Yeah, it has. Going back to Pocono, we went back with what we thought was a better car, everything was better and I knew the racetrack and how I ran in the race last time. We took a better car but we weren't happy with it even. We felt like we were off in some corners, so we're improving every time that we do run. It just takes time to get these things better and learn to see what our Pontiacs like and what I like in a race car. Our motors are getting better, but we just don't have the resources that we can go to like the other teams to find out what we need to do. We've just got to learn it ourselves. Now going back a second time I know what to expect. I have my own notes in my head with what happens to this racetrack during the race."

(WHICH TRACK PRESENTED MORE A CHALLENGE THAN YOU EXPECTED?) "Charlotte, really. I figured Charlotte would be like Texas or anything else. But it's more difficult than Texas. I want to go back and test there before we do run just for the fact that it is more difficult than it does look."

(HOW TOUGH IS IT TO LEAVE THE SUCCESS OF THE TRUCK SERIES TO BE A ROOKIE IN WINSTON CUP?) "It does burst your bubble a little bit when you do come over here from another series that you're used to running. We come here and you're worried more about getting in the race than maybe racing. Getting in the race is real tough. We're getting better at that. Maybe it's just me trying (to learn) to run one lap, and we go out and do it in practice for two hours. You're running one lap at a time, one lap at a time and you're trying to adjust.

"Everything is just an adjustment. In the trucks you worry about the race set-up the whole time you're there in practice. Here you worry about qualifying. Then when you get in the race you've only got an hour to work on race set-up. We've never tested some of these tracks and I've never been there, so it's hard to adapt right away. Not knowing what happens to a racetrack during the race - if it tightens up, loosens up - that's a big adjustment. You've just got to really keep your head and just say, 'I've won races before. I know I can do it.' It's not going to happen overnight, but you've got to be confident and just keep yourself up because you can really get yourself down and it'll pull you down pretty hard."

(HOW WELL DOES THE TRUCK SERIES PREPARE YOU FOR WINSTON CUP?) "I think the trucks do help some. But you learn more about downforce on a Busch car. You run some of the racetracks that Winston Cup does run. The trucks don't run a lot of these racetracks that (Winston) Cup does. But the trucks are only about 30 horsepower less than a Winston Cup car. I think there are good things and there are bad things. I think if you ran Busch it would help you more than just coming out of the truck series. Busch is a little more competitive. They seem to have some of the similarities in bodies and aero. I think next year, with the rumors of the Busch Series going to a different carburetor and stuff, it might be a better way to go."

(WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST THING TO ADJUST TO THIS YEAR?) "The competition level. I never thought it would be this tough. You've got to be pretty dang close when you roll off the trailer for qualifying. You don't have a lot of time and laps to get it right. Then the race set-up has to be perfect. In the trucks you could be off a little bit and finish top 10. If you're off a little bit here you're in 35th, driving with everything you've got, harder than what the guys are doing up front. You've just got to have all your stuff right and perfect to run in the top 10 every day." (HOW IS THE COMPETITION BETWEEN CARS THAT ARE TOWARD THE BACK OF THE FIELD?) "When you were outside looking in, you used to think that those guys back there are just driving around. I think they're driving harder than the guys up front because an ill-handling car is a lot harder to drive than a good car. A good car feels like you can slow down and you're going faster. When we're back there our cars are real tight or loose or something. Trying to be in 33rd going for 32nd doesn't make sense, but you just don't want to give up. It's harder sometimes to drive an ill-handling car than a good one."

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Series NASCAR Cup