Leading into Road America, Mike Bliss and his crew were eager for a change in pace, mostly making right turns. Bliss prepared to play it safe at the four mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Always an eventful outing, the Johnsonville Sausage 200 lived up to its’ reputation.
Starting from the 23rd position, Bliss and his crew utilized an early caution that fell on lap 3. The TriStar Motorsports No. 19 Toyota Camry came down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Restarting 31st, Bliss hit the track ready to work his way to the front.
Breaking into the top-20 by lap 12, Bliss was holding his own as he maneuvered through the 14 turn course. While in the 12th position and fighting loose conditions in the right turns, caution number two fell on lap 15. Crew Chief Paul Clapprood decided to bring the Camry to pit road to make further track bar adjustments. Bliss would restart 18th.
In the midst of a 12 lap green flag run, Bliss assured his team that the track bar adjustments made on the previous pit stop was a step in the right direction in helping the No. 19 turn better.
Bliss was in the 15th position when an extended caution fell at lap 31. Still wanting the car a tad better, Clapprood called Bliss to pit road for tires, fuel and another track bar adjustment. Bliss would hit pit road again for fuel only before the restart to solidify making it to the checkered flag on fuel.
On the restart, Bliss was in the 20th position and quickly raced back into the top-15. On the final green-white-checkered attempt, Bliss rear-ended the car in front of him, puncturing his radiator and his hopes of a top-20 finish. Bliss was forced to pull his Camry into the garage as it began to overheat on the closing laps and would finish 33rd.
“I greatly appreciate my teams’ effort this weekend. It looked as though we were going to have a descent finish until the chaos at the end,” said Bliss. “There was not much I could do at the end, I had nowhere to go and was being pushed from behind. “
Following the Johnsonville Sausage 200, Bliss still maintains the 12th spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver points standing. Happy to leave the past two weekends in his rear-view, Bliss and his crew will regroup as they head into the 1.5-mile tri-oval of Kentucky Speedway.