Early-Race Flat Tire, Late-Race Pileup Spoil Solid Top-20 Run For Bliss, ...
Early-Race Flat Tire, Late-Race Pileup Spoil Solid Top-20 Run For Bliss, #30 Smith & Wesson Racing Team at Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 30, 2006) -- A flat right rear tire early in today's NASCAR Busch Series Yellow Transportation 300 at Kansas Speedway broke some early momentum ridden by Mike Bliss and his #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet of SKI Motorsports, and ultimately spoiled a much-anticipated first-ever solid top-20 finish in the relatively young history of the Smith & Wesson Racing program.
Racing in their fourth and final Busch series race of the 2006 season -- and only the ninth ever for this program that debuted with Scott Riggs' 21st-place finish at Las Vegas in March of 2005 -- Bliss and the #30 team started today's 200-lap, 300-mile run around the 1.5-mile tri-oval from the 37th position. Moving toward the front ever so consistently during the first fuel-and-tire run of the day. Bliss had the Smith & Wesson Racing machine up to 25th when the first caution period came out on Lap 25. Pitting for four new tires and adjustments to correct a slightly loose condition, Bliss resumed in 29th, but shortly after the Lap-30 restart, Bliss reported a possible flat tire. A timely yellow just five laps later enabled him to pit for another set of tires, but further chassis adjustments during that second stop made the car too tight, necessitating multiple stops over the next 65 laps to continue to loosen up the car sufficiently.
Bliss had worked his way up to a race-high 13th position by the race's midpoint. Changes during a green-flag stop on Lap 100 enabled Bliss to begin running his fastest laps of the race and saw him move back toward the top 20. He was up to 21st by Lap 151, and found himself in the same position 40 laps later, with just nine laps to go. But a multicar pileup on a Lap-194 restart caught Bliss's right-front corner. A precautionary pit stop to inspect significant right-front tire rub sent him back to a 27th-place finish.
This concludes the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series campaign for Smith & Wesson Racing. Announcements regarding its endeavors for 2007 and beyond are forthcoming.
"That was the best car we've had all year, and in the beginning of the race, it looked like we were going to have a really good day. We came here with some brand new bodywork and some other upgrades that we made since Fontana and they seemed to be paying off, although I would liked to have qualified a lot better than we did. The flat tire early on really messed things up for us because we weren't sure it was flat, at first, and ended up making some adjustments that made the car way too tight. We kept picking away at it as the race wore on, but we just couldn't get it quite right quickly enough, with the way the pit stops shook out, to allow us to go racing with the leaders. All in all, we had our moments this weekend -- certainly things for this Smith & Wesson program to build upon for next season and beyond. I appreciate the opportunity to represent one of the more legendary brand names in American history."
CHRIS LENCHESKI (Team Owner)
"We flirted with a finish of anywhere from 13th to 20th if a couple of things would have gone our way. That would have been tremendous for our young program. We come to the track hoping for great things every time we come to town, but the reality of it is we are all of just nine races old over the past two seasons, and we are out there fighting with some of the most successful racing organizations in the world that are out here week in and week out. That's a tall order for a young, independent team, but that's what we signed up for, and we feel we are continuing to take baby steps in the right direction. We made the show at all four races this season -- convincingly. We had our moments at each and every one of them. The foundation is certainly there for this program's greatest moments in the years to come. I want to say thanks to the men and women of Smith & Wesson for all their great support."