BLISS WORKS OVERTIME FOR TEAM AMICK AT WATKINS GLEN CONCORD, NC (June 24)- Driver Mike Bliss will be working a lot of extra hours this weekend at Watkins Glen International. Bliss will drive his No. 99 EXIDE Batteries Ford for Roush Racing...
BLISS WORKS OVERTIME FOR TEAM AMICK AT WATKINS GLEN
CONCORD, NC (June 24)- Driver Mike Bliss will be working a lot of extra hours this weekend at Watkins Glen International.
Bliss will drive his No. 99 EXIDE Batteries Ford for Roush Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series' (CTS) Bully Hill Vineyards 150 on Saturday. Then he'll take the wheel of the No. 35 SCANA/Powertel Chevrolet for Team Amick Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division's (BGN) Lysol 200 on Sunday.
"It's going to be a little hectic," Bliss laughs. "But I'm always up for a challenge."
Sunday's race is the first of two BGN events Bliss has agreed to drive in for Team Amick, with the other being the July 4 DieHard 250 at The Milwaukee Mile. Bliss is filling in for Elliott Sadler, who will take over driving duties for the SCANA/Powertel Chevrolet for the remainder of the season on July 17 at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Team Amick Motorsports General Manager Barry Dodson says the decision to put Bliss in the No. 35 at Watkins Glen was not a hard one to make.
"I think Mike is one of road racing's better kept secrets," says Dodson. "All you have to do is look at the statistics. He's done well against established road racers like Boris Said and Ron Fellows, and I think that says a lot. When you look at who's available, and who's been successful, it was an easy decision."
Dodson points to his relationship with Bliss as another deciding factor when Team Amick went looking for a fill-in driver. The two worked together when Dodson was hired as Bliss' Crew Chief on the No. 2 ASE Ford in the Craftsman Truck Series in 1995.
Dodson says the two men found that chemistry existed between them from the very start.
"The first weekend we worked together, Mike pulled off a win at North Wilkesboro," Dodson remembers. "That kind of set the tone for our partnership. He and I just clicked from the beginning, which doesn't happen all that often. Since we already have that bond established, it should reduce our learning curve this weekend quite a bit."
Given his strong runs at tracks like Watkins Glen, some may find it odd that Bliss doesn't consider road courses to be his strong suit.
"I come from the circle track stuff," says Bliss. "I never even ran a road course until I got into the Craftsman Truck Series. I've been to a number of the road racing schools, though, and I even went back to one earlier this year."
Bliss says that a return trip to the school was necessary as a refresher before taking on the three road courses that dot the Craftsman Truck Series schedule.
"I needed to go back, because you forget some of the subtle things the instructors teach you," Bliss believes. "Road racing is one of those things where, the more you drive it, the better you get at it. I think that the added experience of running this road course in my truck and then in the car will pay off in the long run for myself and the Roush Racing team."
Despite his years of driving experience, Sunday's race will only be the third time Bliss has driven a BGN car in competition. His other two starts came at California and Indianapolis last season. Bliss says that learning the differences between the trucks and the cars has been an interesting experience.
"The cars have less horsepower than the trucks, so they're less responsive when you step on the gas," Bliss explains. "But the cars make it up in the straight-aways, because they have so much less drag. Also, the cars seem to stick a lot better in the corners, due to the downforce. It took me a few laps to get used to, but I caught on pretty fast."
When asked if he thinks Bliss will be able to catch on quickly in the No. 35 car this weekend, Dodson just smiles.
"He's one of only two drivers who've won a race every year in the Craftsman Truck Series," says Dodson. "You don't do that without being quick."