Michael Bliss (born April 5, 1965, in Milwaukie, Oregon) is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. He currently drives the #36 Wave Energy Drink Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing. He began racing at age 10. 1993 marked his first major victory when he captured the USAC Silver Crown National Championship.
Bliss began racing in NASCAR in 1995, driving the #08/2 Ford F-150 for Ultra Motorsports in the new Craftsman Truck Series. Competing in 19 out of 20 races, Bliss picked up a win at North Wilkesboro Speedway and finished eighth in points. The next year, with sponsorship from Team ASE Racing, he won at Evergreen and I-70 and finished fifth in points. In 1998, he made his debut in the upper-NASCAR ranks. First, he finished 26th at the Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 driving a car owned by Kevin Schwantz, then two weeks later, finished seventh at Indianapolis Raceway Park for Michael Waltrip Racing. He also ran a pair of Winston Cup races that season, finishing 25th at Martinsville Speedway in the #96 for American Equipment Racing.
After winning six poles and finishing fourth in points in 1998, Bliss announced he would not return to the team after 1998, and signed with Roush Racing to drive the #99 Exide Batteries Ford. He picked up a win at Heartland Park Topeka and finished fifth in points. During the season, he began to pick up offers to run in the Cup Series, and left Roush. In 1999, Bliss ran two Winston Cup races for Bahari Racing with sponsorship from Sara Lee products.
In 2000, Bliss signed to drive the #14 Conseco Pontiac Grand Prix owned by A.J. Foyt Racing in a bid for NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors. Because the team had no owner’s points, Bliss failed to qualify for three out of the first four races of the season, and he was quickly released. He soon signed to drive the #27 Pfizer/Viagra Pontiac for Eel River Racing. He had a ninth place run at Talladega Superspeedway and finished 39th in points that year.
Unfortunately, he was unable to pick up a full-time year for the 2001 season. He finished 40th at Daytona International Speedway in a one-race deal for David Ridling, but that team soon closed its doors. During the middle of the season, he briefly returned to Eel River after they fired their regular driver, but he was unable to qualify for a race. Late in the season, he garnered a ninth place run at South Boston in a one-race deal for Team Rensi Motorsports.
In 2002, Steve Coulter bought Rensi’s truck equipment, and signed Bliss as the driver. Bliss picked up five wins and won the Truck series championship. He would sign to drive the #20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Busch Series the following year, posting fourteen top-tens and finishing tenth in points. That same year, he competed in the International Race of Champions, winning at Chicagoland Speedway. He ran only one Winston Cup race in 2002, subbing for Jamie McMurray (who was subbing for the injured Sterling Marlin, but had a prior commitment) in the #40 Coors Light Dodge. In 2004, Bliss picked up his first career Busch win at Lowe's Motor Speedway and finished fifth in points. After he was declined a job as driver for Gibbs’ Cup program, Bliss announced his departure, and replaced Ward Burton at Haas CNC Racing’s Cup ride, posting a tenth place run at Darlington Raceway.
Bliss signed with Haas CNC full-time in 2005, where he posted two top-tens in the latter half of the season and finished 28th in points. At the end of the year, Bliss departed to return to the #16 in the Truck Series, winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway and finishing eleventh in the final standings. In addition, he ran a part-time in the Busch Series this season, splitting time between Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly and SKI Motorsports. Late in the season, Bliss began driving the #49 BAM Racing Dodge Nextel Cup Car, and finished out the 2006 season driving the car for BAM. Bliss was signed to drive the car in 2007, but after a long string of DNQs, he resigned from the organization midway through the season. He drove the first four races of the 2007 Craftsman Truck season for Key Motorsports and will drove 13 more Truck races for Bobby Hamilton Racing in the #4 Dodge Ram. He also drove22races in the Busch Series for Fitz Motorsports in the #22 Dodge Charger with sponsorship from Supercuts and Family Dollar. He had signed to drive for Fitz full-time in 2008, but joined Phoenix Racing shortly after the season started. He matched his career best fifth place finish in points and also ran part-time schedules in Cup and Trucks.
Bliss scored his second career Nationwide win, taking advantage of a his fuel milage and getting a caution at the right time, at Lowes Motor Speedway, and NASCAR declared the race official after 170 of 200 laps due to rain. On August 2nd, 2009 Bliss was let go from Phoenix Racing. He spent the rest of the season splitting time with MSRP Motorsports, NEMCO Motorsports, and CJM Racing before returning to Phoenix for the season finale at Homestead. Despite parking early in multiple races, three late top 5 runs pushed Bliss into 5th overall again. This was one spot better than when he was when he was fired from the #1 car.