Originally created 08/07/03

Said hoping road racing success leads to full-time ride



Boris Said has had enough of being a road racing "hired gun." He wants to be a full-time driver on NASCAR's top circuit.

"I'm going to try my hardest to make it happen," he said.

Said is one of several road racing specialists hired regularly by NASCAR teams to drive in the events at Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y., the only road circuits on the Winston Cup schedule.

He'll be back at the wheel of the No. 01 MB2 Pontiac for Sunday's race at the upstate New York track, driving in place of Jerry Nadeau, who is recovering from injuries sustained May 2 in a brutal crash in Richmond, Va.

It's the same car that Said put on the pole at Sonoma in June, then drove to a sixth-place finish.

That was easily the best result in eight Cup starts for the 2002 SCCA Trans-Am Series champion, and it boosted his hopes of finding a full-time stock car ride.

But Said still has to contend with that label of road racing specialist.

"The big problem is that you've still got to go out and prove you can do it on an oval," he said. "I think I can, I've just got to convince some team owner to give me a chance on an oval.

"The performance at (Sonoma) is definitely giving me at least two ovals this year, so I'm hoping I can prove myself there and get a full-time deal in Cup."

He said one of those oval races will be the ARCA event in October at Talladega.

"I'm going to try and get a little experience drafting," he said. "But I'm pretty confident I'll be at the Bud Shootout."

Said earned his way into the Shootout, a made-for-TV race at Daytona International Speedway in February for the previous year's pole winners, at Sonoma.

Asked if he has talked with MB2 about providing a car for that event, Said smiled and said, "Yeah, that conversation started about 30 seconds after they told me I had the pole. I've been working flat out ever since trying to get a ride on any oval I can."

His oval experience is limited to driving in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series for two years - and it wasn't a great experience.

"I didn't understand the (trucks) at that point. And now, I understand what makes these cars work a lot better, so I think if I had another chance at ovals, I'd be a lot more prepared. So, yes I definitely have more confidence."

Said noted the biggest difference between driving a sports car and driving a stock car is the level of competition.

"In any road racing series I do, there are five or six guys you're racing against," he said. "In Winston Cup, there are 43 guys, and they're all competitive. There are just tiny things that separate the winners from the losers.

"In the past, it's always been that everybody is my best friend and then, once August comes around and Watkins Glen is over, your phone never rings again," he said. "And now, I'm getting a lot more positive responses from the people I've been talking to."

Crew chief Robin Pemberton is one person who doesn't have to be convinced that the 40-year-old Said is a capable driver.

"Boris has as much talent as anybody I've ever worked with," Pemberton said. "It would just take a little time. It might not take much time. He's a much better racer right now than he was three or four years ago when we first started really working together.

"He's more knowledgeable. He's got the ability and I hope that somebody gives him the opportunity."

Pemberton said what sets Said apart from other drivers is exceptional car control and foot work.

"If you've ever seen a foot cam or anything like that inside a car, the things that he does with the gas and the clutch and the brake pedal are second to none.

"His awareness of things around him inside the car is incredible," Pemberton added. "He can tell me different rpm's when he comes off the corners - exactly what the rpm was - things that most drivers can't do. Boris can tell you everything that's going on in there."

Even if the full-time Cup ride never turns up, it isn't going to keep the fun-loving Said down for long.

"If it doesn't happen, I still have a pretty unique racing career and feel lucky I get to drive all the different cool cars," he said. "I'm going to try to make it happen in Winston Cup but, if it doesn't, I'm not going to kick myself over it.

"I'm going to just continue what I'm doing and have a good time racing. That's what I love to do."