NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2010 NASCAR Driver Review: Mike Bliss

Mike Bliss

2010 Rides: No. 36 Wave Energy Drink Chevrolet, No. 09 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet, No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota, Nos. 55/66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota
2010 Primary Sponsors: Wave Energy Drink, Kim Kardashian Fragrances (No. 36), Taxslayer.com (No. 71)
2010 Crew Chiefs: Tommy Baldwin (No. 36), Marc Reno, Nick Harrison (No. 09), Paul Clapprood (No. 71), Trent Owens (No. 32), Zach McGowan (No. 55), Gene Nead (No. 66)
2010 Owners: Tommy Baldwin (No. 36), James Finch (No. 09), Kevin Buckler (No. 71), Todd Braun (No. 32), Phil Parsons (No. 55/66)
2010 Stats: 17 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s, 10 DNQs, 12 DNFs, 42nd in points

High Point: In the only race he competed for TRG Motorsports in 2010, Bliss piloted the No. 71 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish at the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona. It was his second top-10 of the season, both coming at superspeedways where the underfunded teams he drove for would go the distance. His top 10 at Talladega on April 25, driving the No. 09 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet was his first such Cup finish in the last five years.

Low Point: It was a season of musical chairs for Bliss. Driving for five car owners, many of which were low-budget teams, Bliss had a combined 22 DNQs and DNFs with just five races finished. His worst stretch of the season may have come at the start of the Chase when he DNF’d at Loudon and Dover and then failed to qualify for Kansas, Fontana and Charlotte with PRISM Motorsports. That left him sitting on the sidelines for two weeks until the No. 55 team picked him up again to finish the year.

Summary: It was a disappointing season by many standards for the former Truck Series champion, who continues to struggle finding a permanent seat in Sprint Cup. The year started out with such promise, aligned with both a single-car team going the distance (Tommy Baldwin Racing) and a sponsor (Wave Energy Drink) putting up the money for 14 races. But after two crashes and a DNQ in his first six races with the team, the funding and patience dried up in a surprise release that left him unemployed.

James Finch picked him up, where he ran a handful of races for Phoenix, then one apiece for TRG and Braun Racing before PRISM Motorsports picked him up for the majority of this season. His 10 DNQs and 12 DNFs for a variety of owners won’t help, but the fact that he was able to record a pair of top-10 finishes in two of his three superspeedway starts could perhaps lead to more spot duty in the future.

2011 Outlook: Unknown at this time, as Bliss remains unsigned by any particular team in each of NASCAR’s top three series for next season. Will he ever compete full-time in the Cup Series for a high-dollar team? No. But what I expect is Bliss continuing to carve out a role as a successful Truck and Nationwide Series driver who makes a few Cup starts each year.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: D
2007 Grade: N/A
2008 Grade: N/A
2009 Grade: N/A
2010 Grade: D (two top-10s in five races finished is impressive)

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