Bliss, #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet Off and Running in '06 With Season's First NASCAR Busch Series Run at Darlington
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Friday, May 12, 2006) -- Mike Bliss and the #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet team of SKI Motorsports opened their 2006 NASCAR Busch Series campaign with a 31st-place finish in tonight's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on the 1.33-mile egg-shaped Darlington Raceway oval.
Bliss and the SKI Motorsports team, under the direction of crew chief Bob Schacht, worked through major handling problems in the day's opening practice session and had the #30 car 16th on the final-practice timesheet. One of 17 entries that were required to make the race on time, Bliss put the car 40th on the starting grid with a wild qualifying run that saw him save his sliding race car on the first lap.
By the 147-lap race's midpoint, Bliss was running as high as 27th and appeared poised for a top-20 finish before significant contact with the car of Steve Park, who checked up ahead of him on Lap 74. The damage required multiple pit stops for repairs and sent Bliss back in the order. He worked his way back to within a lap of the leaders, but had to settle for a 31st-place finish.
Next up for the Smith & Wesson Racing program is the July 29 Busch series race at Gateway International Raceway across the river from St. Louis.
"Being our first time out on the racetrack this season, it turned out to be an adventure that could have had a happier ending. We struggled through some things in the beginning of practice, but we quickly made the car very driveable in final practice. I thought the Smith & Wesson Chevrolet was great for the race. We got everything we could out of it in qualifying and had a bit of a scare, but we kept it together and got a nice second qualifying lap. We were very tight at the start of the race, but again made some changes that helped a lot and we started going well and moving toward the front. I'm not sure what happened to Steve Park (on Lap 74). He checked up or something, we made contact, and things started going downhill from there. All in all, I think it was a great effort by everyone involved. This is not an easy thing to do, run a part-time schedule. But the sponsors at Smith & Wesson are 100% behind us and we're off and running in our second season together."
CHRIS LENCHESKI (team owner)
"I think we have to say 'hats off' to everyone in the Smith & Wesson Racing program. To show up here for the first time this season, against all these great teams and drivers, to practice well and put the car solidly in the show, and then flirt with a top-20 finish, is a huge task. The effort was tremendous, from Mike who gave us every ounce of driving effort, to Bob Schacht and his crew. If it hadn't been for the incident that set us back, who knows what might have been. But that's the way it goes. We have to take what we get on the racetrack and come back and do it better the next time. With all the established teams and (Nextel) Cup connections with the teams and the drivers, I'd say we are in pretty good company."