Pepsi 400 qualifying action was barely two laps old when Charlotte Observer motorsports writer David Poole declared that the last of two lap times just posted might've already taken the pole. "There's your time to beat," Poole said. With ...
Pepsi 400 qualifying action was barely two laps old when Charlotte Observer motorsports writer David Poole declared that the last of two lap times just posted might've already taken the pole.
"There's your time to beat," Poole said.
With considerable driving talent still in line and itching to stretch the legs of their million-dollar cars, other reporters might've ordinarily thought Poole's statement outlandish -- had it not come from one of Nextel Cup's acknowledged experts.
Close to three-hours later, Poole was proven correct when none of the following 47 drivers could knock Boris Said and his No. 60 No Fear Sobe Ford Fusion from atop the DIS scoring pylons.
A largely skeptical reporting crew awaited Said's arrival at the media center because, after all, who is this Boris Said guy?
Most of those who followed sportscar racing were perfectly aware of Said's accomplishments. But most of the media types on hand didn't usually bother themselves with the "wine and cheese" end of the motorsports spectrum and didn't know what to expect from the tall, slender curly-haired guy soon to be among them.
They were about to learn.
Usually awe-struck with having 200 or so reporters close at one's feet and a bank of television-quality video cameras focusing on the face of the moment, the subject of a first-time media center news conference will generally become as small as possible and make like a duck out of water as they babble their way through a first-time session.
Stock car racing's biggest names -- at some previous time not so big -- have climbed the stage's steps, sat down atop the podium and pretty much looked like a deer caught in headlights' glare.
Comfortable and good-to-go, he didn't stammer, stutter or not know what to say. When Said finished 30-minutes later he had signed-on at least a few newfound fans.
When he finished an altogether unexpected fourth-place in Saturday's Pepsi 400, a bunch more hopped on the Said bandwagon.
Indeed, the media had only managed to reflect the real world.
"The most noticeable thing is that every person in my life I've ever known has called me or e-mailed me after the Pepsi 400," Said said Wednesday as he described his return to a "daily grind" that includes purveying the No Fear product-line.
"I've been pretty tied up in answering all the e-mails I've gotten over the last few days."
"The response I'm getting from fans -- who said they're going out and buying Sobe beverages -- has been incredible. I'm hoping my slogan, 'win races; sell more cases' proves true."
It wasn't long after the Pepsi 400 start that Tony Stewart and others started shuffling Said to well beyond mid-pack and, for the most part, it's where he stayed through much of the race.
"I just made sure I stayed out of everybody's way. No one flipped me off, no one hassled me or gave me a hard time and I feel pretty good about my performance -- both during the race and there at the end."
Reminded of a post-pole qualifying question whose poser wondered if Said's pit crew would be able to match the performance of other, "more experienced pit crews," Said said his did an outstanding job.
"As usual (crew chief) Frank (Stoddard) made some really good calls," Said recalled. "He's the one who called for the gas-and-go that put us back up front. I'd been running really well on old tires on there wasn't any need to change them at the end. The guys on the crew got me in and out the whole race long. In fact, the only mistake anyone made in the pits was me. I stopped about six-inches out the box one time."
Fresh off his fourth-place finish not too long afterward, Said was sitting on the Speedway's pit wall with a throng surrounding him when he saw Jack Roush try but fail to get through.
Said would later call Roush, saying the veteran Nextel Cup team owner - and one-time sportscar racer - was "very happy."
"The only thing I could do was thank him. I was nothing but thanks because he gave me the best opportunity I've ever had and I really appreciate what he's done for me. The team at Roush, who hung my car, and the engine guys at Roush/Yates really did a fantastic job, too. I was just the driver and I couldn't have got it done without all those guys' help."
Turning to the future, Said is looking toward NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series runs, with Indianapolis and Martinsville races being among those highest on his anticipation list.
"Though the deal isn't done on a Rolex Series ride, yet, I'm hoping to do all three races at The Glen in August," he said, noting that he'll be doing Busch Series and Nextel Cup races there at minimum.
Previously this year, Said co-drove to a June 3 Six Hours of The Glen victory along with co-driver and Rolex Series points leader Jorg Bergmeister in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype.
Said also will drive later this month in the July 28 Rolex Series' Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., with additional Rolex Series sportscar races at California's Infineon Raceway Aug. 26 and again on Sept. 2 at Miller Motor Sports Park in Utah.
- DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com