BUSCH: St. Louis: Mike Bliss preview

Bliss, Brand New Smith & Wesson Chevrolet Set for Gateway 200 MADISON, Ill. (July 26, 2006) -- Mike Bliss and the ...

Bliss, Brand New Smith & Wesson Chevrolet Set for Gateway 200

MADISON, Ill. (July 26, 2006) -- Mike Bliss and the #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet team of SKI Motorsports make their second NASCAR Busch Series appearance of the season this weekend at Gateway International Raceway on the outskirts of St Louis.

Bliss will debut a brand new SKI Motorsports-built Chevrolet, sporting a unique black-and-white paint scheme exemplifying Smith & Wesson's ongoing tribute to America's law enforcement heroes, on the mile-and-a-quarter egg-shaped oval here in pursuit of a top finish in Saturday night's Gateway 200. Bliss and the team made their first appearance of 2006 on the similarly egg-shaped oval at Darlington in May.

As part of the law enforcement tribute program, run in conjunction with the national Fraternal Order of Police, Officer Al O'Connor of the Chicago Police Department will serve as honorary crew chief for the weekend.

At Darlington, Bliss and the team overcame handling difficulties and a wild ride in qualifying to make the show. During the race, Bliss had to weather the effects of midrace contact with another competitor to finish 31st.

"We left Darlington with a good idea of where we are and what we needed to do, and I think we have a lot of good things to build on," said Bliss, who came within a lap of winning the 2003 Busch race at Gateway in the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet before running out of gas while taking the white flag in the lead. "We're coming to Gateway with a brand new car, and I've already raced there in the Truck series (last April), so we should have a good idea of how the tires should react and what the track is going to do. I like the track a lot. It's an interesting place, not just another cookie-cutter tri-oval."

Crew chief Bob Schacht, who will have the added benefit of also overseeing the #24 ARCA series effort of Chuck Weber this weekend, is confident his brand new race car is up to the task on the quirky egg-shaped layout.

"Rarely do you see a part-time team invest in brand new equipment, but that's just how committed we are to elevating our performance to the highest levels possible," said SKI Motorsports president Chris Lencheski, who as a full-time team co-owner visited Victory Lane in 2001 at Rockingham with Kenny Wallace and was a fixture in the season-ending top-10. "The rules don't allow much of a chance to test, so we have to do what we can. It's a risk in the purest sense of the word, but hopefully it will pay off with a quality finish come Saturday night."


Saturday night's Gateway 200 is the second 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. 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. The team's final two races this season are at California Speedway on Sept. 2, and Kansas Speedway on Sept. 30.

Bliss has four previous NASCAR starts on Gateway's mile-and-a-quarter egg-shaped oval -- two in the Busch series, and four in the Truck series. Driving the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet in the 2002 Busch race, Bliss was in the lead but ran out of gas while taking the white flag, leaving him 12th. He qualified on the pole in the 2002 Truck race and finished third. In last April's Truck series race at Gateway, Bliss qualified eighth and finished ninth in the #16 Xpress Motorsports Chevrolet, which he is competing in full-time this season.

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. As part of the program, Officer Al O'Connor of the Chicago Police Department will serve as honorary crew chief with the #30 team here this weekend. Officer O'Connor was chosen for the honor by the FOP Grand Lodge Headquarters in recognition of his bravery and courage exhibited during a March 2005 incident in which he helped save another officer's life by shooting and killing a gunman who had already executed a civilian hostage. The other officer, Hugh McCormack of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police, who was injured in the shooting incident, also is a special guest of Smith & Wesson here this weekend.


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Drivers Kenny Wallace , Chuck Weber , Mike Bliss , Bob Schacht
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing