Mike Bliss is an American racing driver who recorded more than 750 starts in all three NASCAR national series between 1995 and 2016. He was the most successful in the NASCAR Truck Series, winning 13 races and becoming the 2002 champion. In the NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) he won two races, with the fifth place as the best season's result.
1993 USAC Silver Crown champion
Mike Bliss was born on April 5, 1965, in Milwaukie, Oregon. He started racing as a ten-year-old kid. Before debuting in NASCAR national series, Bliss was active in the NASCAR Northwest Tour and in the USAC-sanctioned championships, competing in the Silver Crown Series, National Midget Series or Sprint Car Series. His biggest success was the championship title in the 1993 USAC Silver Crown Series.
NASCAR debut and maiden victory in 1995
Bliss had a NASCAR debut in 1995, spending a full season with Jim Smith's Ultra Motorsports, driving the #08 and #2 Ford F-150s. Mike scored his maiden NASCAR victory on September 30 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. With four more Top 5 results, he finished 8th in the points.
In October, Mike failed to qualify for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, driving Ultra Motorsports' #08 Ford.
Five more Truck Series wins with Ultra Motorsports
Bliss spent three more Truck Series seasons with Ultra Motorsports, driving the #2 Ford until the end of 1998. In that period, he clinched five more Truck Series victories – two in 1996 (Evergreen Speedway, I-70 Speedway), one in 1997 (California Speedway) and two in 1998 (Milwaukee Mile, Phoenix). The best season's result was fourth place in 1997.
Cup Series and Busch Series debuts in 1998
After two more DNQ attempts in the Winston Cup Series in 1997, Bliss finally debuted in the premier NASCAR competition in 1998, driving the #96 Chevrolet for Buz McCall's American Equipment Racing at Martinsville Speedway. Bliss finished 25th. Later in the season, he participated in one more race at Phoenix.
In 1998, Bliss also had a Busch Series debut, driving the #88 Chevrolet for Lone Star Motorsports at California Speedway. Two rounds later, he finished seventh at Indianapolis Raceway Park with Michael Waltrip's #21 Ford.
One season with Roush Racing
After leaving Ultra Motorsports, Bliss spent one season with Roush Racing in the 1999 Truck Series, driving the #99 Ford. He added one more win to his account, seventh in a career, at Heartland Park Topeka. He was ninth in the points at the end of the season.
During 1999, Bliss had five more starts in other two NASCAR national series, two times with Eel River Racing in the Winston Cup Series and three times with Team Amick and Michael Waltrip Racing in the Busch Series.
2000 – first full season in the Winston Cup Series
In 2000, Bliss spent his first full season in the Winston Cup Series. In his debut at Daytona 500, he finished 33rd, driving the #14 Pontiac Grand Prix for AJ Foyt Racing. After three consecutive DNQs with that car, Bliss left the team and joined Eel River Racing until the end of the season, driving the #27 Pontiac. His best result was ninth place at Talladega Superspeedway.
Just two races for Mike Bliss in 2001
In 2001, Bliss had no full-time ride and he recorded just two starts and three DNQs throughout the season. He started with Emerald Performance Group's #19 Chevrolet in the Busch Series race at Daytona and with Xpress Motorsports' #16 Chevrolet in the Truck Series race at South Boston Speedway. In the 2001 Winston Cup Series, Bliss failed to qualify for three races with Eel River Racing's #27 Pontiac.
2002 Truck Series champion with Xpress Motorsports
In 2002, Steve Coulter's Xpress Motorsports returned full-time to the Truck Series and signed Mike Bliss to drive the #16 Chevrolet. In the fifth championship round, at Pikes Peak International Raceway, Bliss collected his first win of the season. Later, he added four more wins (Kansas, Kentucky, Nashville, South Boston) and won the Truck Series title, beating Rick Crawford and Ted Musgrave.
Two Busch Series seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing
Freshly crowned Truck Series champion signed for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2003, to drive the #20 Chevrolet full-time in the Busch Series. Bliss posted fourteen Top 10 results, finishing 10th in the points.
In 2004, Bliss stayed with Joe Gibbs Racing and picked up his maiden Busch Series win at Lowe's Motor Speedway. At the end of the season, he was fifth in the points.
2005 Winston Cup season with Haas CNC Racing
For 2005 season, Bliss joined Haas CNC Racing to drive the #0 Chevrolet full-time in the Winston Cup Series. At the season-opening Daytona 500, Bliss finished 18th. It remained his best result in NASCAR's greatest race. Later in the season, he scored two Top 10 results, at Pocono and Bristol, to finish 28th in the points.
2006 - final Truck Series win with Xpress Motorsports
After few appearances in the Truck Series races during 2005, Bliss returned full-time to the #16 Xpress Motorsports' Chevrolet. In October, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he clinched his 13th and final Truck Series victory. At the end of the season, he was 11th in the points.
Bliss spent one more season in the Truck Series, recording 18 starts in 2007 with three different teams (Key Motorsports, Xpress Motorsports and Bobby Hamilton Racing). His best result was 3rd place in Phoenix.
In the following years, Bliss had four Truck Series starts in 2008 and seven starts in 2009. His most recent appearances in the Truck Series was in 2016 when he started in three races with Contreras Motorsports and MB Motorsports.
Nationwide Series race victory with Phoenix Racing
Since 2008, Bliss was focused the most on the renamed NASCAR Nationwide Series. He started the 2008 season with Fitz Motorsports' #22 Dodge but later moved to Phoenix Racing's #1 Chevrolet. With fifteen Top 10 results, he finished fifth in the points.
In 2009, Bliss stayed with Phoenix Racing and scored his second series victory, winning the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. In August, he parted ways with Phoenix Racing, spending the rest of the season driving for five different teams before returning to Phoenix Racing for the season's finale. At the end of the season, Bliss was fifth in the points.
In 2010, Bliss joined Key Motorsports to drive the #40 Chevrolet full season in the Nationwide Series. In three races, he was driving Kevin Harvick's #33 Chevrolet.
Driving for TriStar Motorsports since 2011
In 2011, Bliss joined TriStar Motorsports and spent the next six seasons with the team. From 2011 to 2014, he had a full-time schedule, after that he was a part-time driver. Mike's best season with TriStar Motorsports was 2012, with 8th place at Daytona's summer race as the best result and 8th place in the final standings. In the 2016 Xfinity Series season, Bliss had only three race starts with TriStar's #10 and #14 cars.
In the Cup Series, Bliss competed in recent years with more than ten different teams. His last notable result was the ninth place at 2010 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, where he was driving the #71 Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports. Bliss participated for the last time in the Cup Series in September 2015, driving the #33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport at Darlington's Southern 500.