BUSCH: Kansas: Mike Bliss preview

Bliss, Smith & Wesson Chevy Team Look to Kansas For Top Finish in Their NASCAR Busch Series Season Finale KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 27, 2006) -- Mike Bliss and the familiar black-and-white ...

Bliss, Smith & Wesson Chevy Team Look to Kansas For Top Finish in Their NASCAR Busch Series Season Finale

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 27, 2006) -- Mike Bliss and the familiar black-and-white #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet of SKI Motorsports head to Kansas Speedway this weekend for their final NASCAR Busch Series run of 2006, Saturday's Yellow Transportation 300.

A brand new body on the Smith & Wesson Racing machine will be adorned in the black-and-white paint scheme honoring America's law enforcement heroes for the sixth time in the last two seasons. Detective Lt. (retired) Ronald Johnson of the Hammond (Indiana) Police Department will serve as honorary crew chief as Bliss and the team hope to close out their four-race 2006 campaign with a top finish. Under the all-new bodywork is the brand new SKI Motorsports-built Chevrolet that Bliss debuted at Gateway Raceway in July, where he qualified third among 16 "go-or-go-home" entries, then raced to a top-30 finish at California Speedway earlier this month.

"We're pulling out all the stops so we can finish our season by giving the men and women of Smith & Wesson our best finish, yet," said Bliss, who won the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here at Kansas enroute to the series championship. "We've rebodied the car and spent a lot of time making significant upgrades and improvements. It should be an exciting weekend. I like the track a lot. I know we built this car with this type of track in mind, so with the changes and upgrades we've made since we first raced it at Gateway, I believe we can put on a really good show."

At Gateway, terminal brake trouble spoiled the debut of the brand new Smith & Wesson Chevrolet. And at California, even though Bliss and the team fought incredibly tight conditions all weekend, only a late-race splash for fuel spelled the difference between a possible top-10 finish and 30th place.

"We've made our presence known pretty much everywhere we've been these last two seasons," said SKI Motorsports team owner Chris Lencheski, whose Smith & Wesson-sponsored team made its first appearance at Las Vegas in March of 2005. "Even though we're not out there racing week in and week out, we've been working hard behind the scenes in our efforts to get the most out of every aspect of this program for the benefit of our sponsors and supporters. We went right to work after the California race to keep pushing the program along, so we can finish on a high note at Kansas and set the stage for even bigger and better things to come starting next season."


* Saturday's Yellow Transportation 300 is the fourth and final race 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 has been the driver at all four events. Mother's Day weekend at Darlington, Bliss overcame handling difficulties to qualify 40th, then survived midrace contact with another competitor enroute to a 31st-place finish. July 29 at Gateway, Bliss and the team debuted a brand new race car but saw their night come to a premature end with terminal brake trouble 49 laps from the finish. At California Speedway in Fontana on Labor Day Weekend, Bliss battled a tight race car all weekend and persevered on race day with a top-30 run.

* Smith & Wesson, in conjunction with the national Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Grand Lodge Headquarters, continues a special tribute to the nation's law enforcement heroes that began last fall. As part of the program, Detective Lt. Ronald Johnson of the Hammond (Indiana) Police Department will serve as honorary crew chief with the #30 team here this weekend. Johnson was chosen for the honor by the FOP Grand Lodge in recognition of his personal commitment to solving a case involving three missing teens and the subsequent conviction of a serial killer.

* Bliss is no stranger to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway, having won the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Bliss has two previous NBS starts at Kansas with top-10 qualifying efforts in both driving the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet in 2003 (fourth) and 2004 (eighth). A blown engine late in the 2003 race spoiled a top finish. He also finished 15th at Kansas in the NetZero Nextel Cup Chevrolet in 2005.

* Bliss is currently eighth in the Truck series points in the #16 entry after his third-place finish last Saturday night at Las Vegas.

* 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 s chedule.

* On board with the team as a major associate sponsor this season is Berkley, the world's #1 fishing brand founded in 1937. Its 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.

* 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."

-credit: ski

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Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Scott Riggs , Stuart Kirby , Mike Bliss , Bob Schacht
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing