Bristol: Mike Bliss race report

BLISS AND BAM RACING CONTINUE MOMENTUM AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY Bliss qualifies for second consecutive race; Strong finish boosts team in point standings BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 25, 2007) -- After a successful weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway,...

Bliss qualifies for second consecutive race; Strong finish boosts team in point standings

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 25, 2007) -- After a successful weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, momentum was on the side of Mike Bliss and the BAM Racing team. Sitting just 99 points outside of the top-35 in owner points standings heading to Bristol Motor Speedway, both driver and team were determined to qualify for, and run competitively in, the first Car of Tomorrow race in NASCAR history. Bliss was able to pilot the Dodge to an impressive 19th place starting position for Sunday's Food City 500. He drove a smart race running in the top-15 most of the afternoon and remained on the lead lap for the majority of the race. He ultimately captured a 17th-place finish.

In practice prior to qualifying, Bliss posted a fast lap time of 15.640 seconds at a speed of 122.685 miles per hour. He finished practice in the 14th position and was the fastest of all cars required to qualify on time. Bliss was the 25th competitor to make a qualifying attempt on Friday afternoon and posted a fast lap time of 15.478 at a speed of 124.250 miles per hour. The effort secured the team a 19th place starting position for Sunday and its second consecutive start of the season.

Racing at Bristol requires patience, focus, and a little bit of luck. Crew chief Lee McCall reminded his driver and team of just that as the field prepared to take the green flag at the .533-mile oval.

"You know the deal here," said McCall. "Stay focused and be nice and smooth. Take care of your racecar and we will be there at the end of the day. Pit stops happen in a hurry so let me know what you need and we will be ready."

The first of 15 caution periods came out early in the race and the team decided to stay out on the track. Reporting that the car was a little on the loose side, the team opted to make a pit stop for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment under caution near lap 50.

By lap 100, Bliss was running in the 23rd position and was posting some of the fastest times on the track.

When the caution flag waved on lap 119, Bliss was running in the 20th position and was very happy with his racecar.

"It's pretty good, Leroy!" radioed Bliss. "Just give me four tires!"

Bliss came to pit road for four tires and fuel. He restarted the race in the same position in which he came to pit road due to the fast and precise actions of the BAM Racing pit crew.

As caution after caution came out, some of the sport's most recognized drivers faced troubles at Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers Reed Sorenson, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne were all involved in incidents while others like Tony Stewart faced mechanical problems.

As the mid-point of the race approached, Bliss remained pleased with the Dodge. Opting not to pit during several caution periods, the team realized the importance of track position.

"It seems to me that track position is more important here than tires," relayed spotter Ross Shattuck. "The No. 8 car is cool behind you. He thinks you are doing a good job moving people out of the way."

Bliss continued to race strong and was running near the top-10 when he was collected in an accident on lap 379. He came to pit road for four tires and fuel returning to the race in 15th place on the lead lap.

"You've got a car good enough to get through the field," radioed McCall. "You've done it three times already today."

Bliss was running in the 14th position on the lead lap with 100 laps to go in the race when he radioed that the car was loose. The team made adjustments to the No. 49 Dodge under caution and Bliss continued to drive hard until taking the checkered flag. He finished the race in 17th place. BAM Racing moved up two positions in the owner point standings to 41st place just 78 points outside of the coveted top-35.

"What a difference this team has made since we tested the Car of Tomorrow here in February," commented Bliss. "Although we are still figuring everything out, I was really happy with my racecar and our effort today. We had a top-10 car this afternoon but it got loose toward the end of the race and we lost a few positions. We are very happy with our performance the past two weekends and are looking forward to racing at Martinsville."

The NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for another action-packed Car of Tomorrow event. The Goody's Cool Orange 500 will air on FOX at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will broadcast live on MRN.

-credit: bam racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne , Mike Bliss