(Sept. 29, 1999) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series stalwart Mike Bliss will attempt to qualify the Jimmy Dean Pontiac for Sunday's NAPA Autocare 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Bliss reunites with Barry Dodson, who served as his crew chief ...
(Sept. 29, 1999) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series stalwart Mike Bliss will attempt to qualify the Jimmy Dean Pontiac for Sunday's NAPA Autocare 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Bliss reunites with Barry Dodson, who served as his crew chief from 1996-98. Dodson now heads the NASCAR Winston Cup operation at Eel River Racing. Bliss has two Winston Cup starts in his career, both coming last season. He drove for Buzz McCall at Martinsville last fall, qualifying and finishing 25th. He also made the field at Phoenix last year.
Earlier Wednesday, Bliss and Roush Racing agreed to part ways following the conclusion of the 2000 season. With Roush this season in the truck series, Bliss has one win, five top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. He is ninth in points.
Bliss is fifth on the all-time victory list for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with seven triumphs. He ranks No. 3 all-time in career starts and has 14 poles, 30 top-five and 50 top-10 finishes. His first victory on the circuit came at North Wilkesboro in 1995 and Dodson was his crew chief.
"Barry and I have run real well together in the past," Bliss said. "He brings so much knowledge to the table that it gives me a level of comfort and experience. I just have to worry about telling him what the car is doing and not how to fix it. I guarantee you, he'll know how to fix it."
While Bliss only has one Winston Cup start at Martinsville, he has plenty of familiarity with the short track. He still holds the track truck qualifying record there.
"It's tough to qualify in the Winston Cup Series, but I ran well at Martinsville last season," Bliss said. "The times are just so close when it comes to qualifying. But because I've run there in the past, I do know you have to have a car that rolls through the corners and has a lot of forward bite. That's the key to getting around Martinsville. My experience there in the truck series kind of gives me an idea of what to expect. Cars and trucks are so different. The trucks will only go so fast because they don't have as much downforce."
The biggest thing Bliss sees going for him is reuniting with Dodson. Dodson's only been on the job for Eel River Racing two months since Boston businessman Jack Birmingham purchased the team from Chuck Rider. In that brief period, Todd Bodine has posted two top-20 runs for the team in three starts.
Bliss hopes to continue that momentum.
"There's going to be pressure," Bliss said. "There's even more because we know we can't rely on a provisional to make the field. So basically, you've got to get in a great lap in first round qualifying or it's really tough to make it. I'm not putting a lot of pressure on myself yet. It helps to know that Barry has assured me that we're bringing a really good Grand Prix up there. This isn't his first time as a crew chief at Martinsville. Those are the things that will give me some confidence in the Jimmy Dean Pontiac."