BUSCH: Darlington: Mike Bliss preview

Bliss Kicks Off '06 Campaign for Smith & Wesson Chevrolet At NASCAR Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200 DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2006) -- A new NASCAR Busch Series season starts for the ...

Bliss Kicks Off '06 Campaign for Smith & Wesson Chevrolet At NASCAR Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2006) -- A new NASCAR Busch Series season starts for the #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet of SKI Motorsports with familiar face Mike Bliss behind the wheel and crew chief Bob Schacht at the helm at Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on the feisty 1.33-mile egg-shaped Darlington Raceway oval.

As it did at the final two races during its inaugural 2005 campaign, the Smith & Wesson Racing machine will feature a stunning black-and-white paint scheme as part of the company's ongoing tribute to America's law enforcement heroes. As part of the tribute program, run in conjunction with the national Fraternal Order of Police organization, Officer Wilbur Chamberlin of Ovett, Miss., will serve as honorary crew chief for the night.

Last July at Daytona, it was Bliss who gave Smith & Wesson Racing followers one of their biggest thrills of the team's inaugural eight-race season when he came within a lap-and-a-half of a top-10 finish before getting caught up in a late-race, multi-car wreck. This weekend, he brings a stout SKI Motorsports Chevrolet that fellow NASCAR veteran Ron Hornaday, Jr., qualified 12th in the team's 2005 finale on the mile oval at Phoenix last November.

"It's great to be back with the Smith & Wesson Chevrolet team, especially with a great car on a track that ranks as one of my favorites," said Bliss, who's this year's full-time driver of the #16 Xpress Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where he is currently seventh in the standings after four consecutive top-10 finishes. "(Crew chief) Bob Schacht knows how to prepare excellent race cars, and Darlington is the kind of place that suits a dirt-track veteran like me to a tee. Your tires tend to go away quickly, and then it's time to slide around and do some racing."

"Hopefully, we'll pick up right where we left off in the qualifying department, and then let Mike do his thing on a track he likes a lot," Schacht said. "Being a part-time team, we're always behind the eight-ball because we have to qualify everywhere we go on time. But we should be up to the task with a good car and a veteran driver with a history of qualifying well. We're ready to kick off the season in style, and give the Smith & Wesson folks something they can really shout about."


* Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 is the first of four races on the 2006 schedule for the #30 Smith & Wesson/SKI Motorsports Chevrolet. Former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and USAC Silver Crown Series champion Mike Bliss is slated to drive all four events. After this weekend at Darlington, the team will race at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis on July 29, California Speedway on Sept. 2, and Kansas Speedway on Sept. 30.

* The Smith & Wesson Racing NBS program debuted in 2005 with an eight-race schedule of events that featured Bliss, as well as Nextel Cup regular Scott Riggs and two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. Hornaday turned in the season's best qualifying effort of 12th at Phoenix in November. Bliss came within a lap-and-a-half of scoring a top-10 finish at Daytona in July. Las Vegas, Atlanta, Charlotte, Bristol, Texas and California also were on the 2005 schedule.

* Bliss has a total of eight previous NASCAR starts on the Darlington mile-and-a-third egg-shaped oval -- three in Nextel Cup, four in the Busch series, and one in the Truck series. He was 10th and 19th in the NetZero Nextel Cup entry 2004-05, respectively. He was third in the 2004 Busch race driving the #20 Gibbs Racing Chevrolet. And he was third in the 2002 Truck series race.

* With Officer Wilbur Chamberlin of Ovett, Miss., serving as honorary crew chief here this weekend, Smith & Wesson, in conjunction with the national Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Grand Lodge, continues a special tribute to the nation's law enforcement heroes that began last fall at the NASCAR Texas and Phoenix events. Chamberlin was recognized by the FOP for his tireless efforts aiding Gulf Coast law enforcement and civilian victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

* Joining the #30 Smith & Wesson Racing Chevrolet team as a major associate sponsor this season is Berkley, the company founded in Spirit Lake, Iowa, in 1937 that has become the world's number one fishing brand. Its legendary product lineup includes Berkley Trilene®, the Berkley Lightning Rod®, Berkley PowerBait®, Berkley Gulp!, Berkley FireLine®, Berkley Vanish®, Berkley Frenzy® and a host of other innovations designed to catch more fish. More information about Berkley can be found at www.berkley-fishing.com.

* Crew chief Bob Schacht, a 35-year veteran in stock car racing, is the only ARCA series driver with wins in 19 consecutive seasons, and also has 23 Nextel Cup starts. As a crew chief, he has a reputation for fielding fast race cars and developing young drivers. One of his latest "projects" was current young Nextel Cup driver Stuart Kirby. Among Schacht's racing innovations is a drivers "suit cooler" utilized in several racing series. Schacht also prepared the race cars used in the movie "Days of Thunder."


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Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Scott Riggs , Stuart Kirby , Mike Bliss , Bob Schacht