NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference June 21, 2005 Boris Said , No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet This week's NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference featured Boris Said, who will drive the No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Team Chevrolet, owned by ...
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference
June 21, 2005
Boris Said , No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet
This week's NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference featured Boris Said, who will drive the No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Team Chevrolet, owned by MB/Sutton Motorsports in this weekend's Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway's road course in Sonoma, California. Said has posted sixth-place finishes the past two years at Infineon.
Q: ON HIS CUP ROAD RACING EXPERIENCE AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEN AND NOW
SAID: "I think it was in 1998 was the first time I ever got in a Cup car at Watkins Glen when I substituted for Jimmy Spencer. And the difference from then to now is a thousand percent different. Back then it was so easy to go from the back to the front. I couldn't believe how easy it felt that first race. And now, they're all so good and they all have cars with really good brakes and they all brake really deep. So it's really hard to pass. It's really competitive. Even the oval races have probably gotten that much more competitive too, I don't know, I'm just guessing. The sport in general has gotten a lot more competitive. But teams have taken it a lot more seriously since then. Before, they used to just blow off the two road races. But now, the points are so close that they take it seriously. They test. They build special cars and now you've got some great races."
Q: DOES YOUR ADVANTAGE COME NOT ONLY FROM YOUR DRIVING SKILLS BUT ALSO IN KNOWING WHAT THE SET-UP ON THE CAR NEEDS TO BE?
SAID: "I don't think it's an advantage. I think it's more that I don't have a disadvantage like I do when I go to an oval. When I go to Texas or Charlotte in particular, because I missed that race, I don't have the experience yet to know what the car needs. I don't know if the car needs to be better or if I need to drive different. But when we get on a road course, I have a good feeling on how much the car can do and what the limits are. I have a good feeling and know what to change to make the car better. I just think I'm not at a disadvantage. And all those guys who race those cars week in and week out, for them it's like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. They just know. It's like second nature to them."
Q: ON VISITING SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON BEFORE THE RACE
SAID: "Yeah, we do it every year. We take our crew guys. We're going to take Frankie Stoddard (Said's crew chief) this year. I don't know if he's tall enough for the height line, but we'll try to sneak him in. They don't allow kids. But it's pretty interesting to go to San Quentin and see the inner workings of a prison with inmates walking around."
Q: WHAT OTHER CUP RACES ARE YOU PLANNING ON RUNNING THIS YEAR?
SAID: "We're going to run next week in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona and then the next two are the Indianapolis Brickyard 400 and then Watkins Glen. Then we're going to do Fontana in the fall, Texas, Kansas City, Charlotte, and I think that might be it."
Q: WHY ARE YOU RUNNING MORE RACES AT THE END OF THE SEASON INSTEAD OF THE BEGINNING?
SAID: "We were starting from nothing. They needed to build cars and get ready. And that's just the way the sponsor ended up picking the races that were beneficial to them."
Q: WILL YOU VISIT THE DEATH CHAMBER AT SAN QUENTIN?
SAID: "Hopefully we'll be able to get in there. That's a hard place to get in. But hopefully."
Q: AT INFINEON, WHAT ARE THE MOST TREACHEROUS PLACES WHERE IF YOU LOSE CONCENTRATION, YOU END UP OFF THE TRACK?
SAID: "That's what make Infineon unique. There are no real straight-aways, so you never have a chance to rest. At Watkins Glen, you have these long straight-aways and you can kind of take a second to gather your thoughts. Infineon is tough because there isn't just one area like that. The whole track is this constant off-camber uphill, downhill, with very fast esses. The whole track is like that. If you lose concentration, you're in trouble. You're probably going off the road. But Turn 10 is probably the most important turn on the track. It's the fastest turn and leads into the best passing spot going into Turn 11. So, it's probably one of the most important places."
Q: RECENTLY, ARE MORE GUYS LOSING THE EDGE A LITTLE AND SPINNING OUT?
SAID: "I don't think they're losing the edge. I think the competition is just so fierce that no longer can you just ride around for three-quarters of the race and then run hard at the end. You've got to run hard from the time they drop the green flag until the time the checkered flag comes out and that makes for more mistakes. You're just trying harder."
Q: DO YOU THINK ALLISON DUNCAN HAS THE ABILITY TO BE A FULL TIME DRIVER ON THE CRAFTSMAN TRUCK OR BUSCH OR NEXTEL CUP SERIES IN THE FUTURE?
SAID: "It's hard to say. She's definitely a good road racer in a sports car. And I would say this to everyone - even if it was (Formula One's) Michael Schumacher - it's a different sport. That's like asking Tiger Woods if he'd be a good tennis player. Probably. If he uses what he used to become the greatest golfer in the world, he probably would be a great tennis player. It would be the same thing for Allison. If she came in, she would really have to take a step back and start over and really re-think driving a big heavy car because it's totally different than driving a light little sports car. But she does a great job in the ALMS series. That's the only place I've really ever seen her."
Q: ARE THE ROAD COURSES MORE DIFFICULT OR IS IT JUST SIMPLY A LACK OF EXPOSURE TO THEM FOR THE OVAL TRACK DRIVERS?
SAID: "I think it's just experience because for me, a road course is easier than going to Texas or Charlotte or Daytona. But for guys like Kevin Lepage or Dale Earnhardt Jr. or anyone who's experience is 90 percent oval racing then I think yes, it's harder for them."
Q: WHAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM ROAD COURSE TO OVAL TRACK RACING?
SAID: "It's just so different. The cars are really heavy and you're traveling at faster speeds. When you're going 200 mph, that's 300 feet per second so it's easy to miss your marks. You've just got to get used to that. You've got to get used to what the car needs to make the turn and to be able to get in the gas hard."
Q: DOES THE SHORT TRACK ADD AN EXTRA DIMENSION OF DIFFICULTY?
SAID: "No, it's just different disciplines. You have the discipline of running a superspeedway and then a road course. And then you have your 1.5-mile discipline and then the short track disciplines that are even different. Martinsville is a lot different than driving at Bristol. So to win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship, you have to be like the Decathlon in the Olympics. You have to be good at all the events like Greg Biffle. He'll be strong on the road course this weekend and he's strong everywhere else too - just like Jeff Gordon. He's unbelievable on a road course and he pretty much wins on every other type of track too."
Q: COULD YOU TAKE US THROUGH A LAP AT INFINEON?
SAID: "You cross the start/finish and that's about the fastest you're going. You just shift into high gear. Turn 1 is very fast. Just before the end of the pit wall, you're easing out of the gas with a little bit of brake. You go down one gear, to third gear, as you turn up the hill and get back in the gas pretty hard for a split second. Then you get the car turned back to the right for Turn 2. You downshift to second gear heading for Turn 3B. It's very hard to get traction and forward bite off of Turn 2. As you head off down toward Turn 3, it's a downhill dip left and you've got to get that just right. It's easy to overdrive it in there and if you do that, the car will use up too much of the road around the left-hander and you won't be set-up for the right-hander over 3B, which is up over the top of the hill where you usually see the cars airborne. And it's all one gear there - second gear now with the rpm the motors turn.
"As you come down the hill - I call it Turn 6, the new NASCAR right-hander - you go very deep on the brakes, maybe to the three-marker, just a little deeper and it's real easy to get axle-hop there and maximum braking there. And you're off the brakes turning hard to the right and you're in the gas as soon as you can. And to do it really fast and carry momentum, you're usually going over the curbing and just barely missing those Styrofoam blocks they have there. And then you're headed wide-open down into Turn 7; very hard-braking down to first gear trying to get the car to turn - it's very tight for big heavy cars. As you turn to the right there around the curving, you're in first gear. You're trying to get in the gas, but you can't really go full power or else you'll just spin the tires. You short-shift second, still can't really get to the power all the way because you'll spin the tires and then as you go about 100 yards it'll hook up and you'll be in third gear going into the esses in Turn 8.
"It's very fast and the car is moving around a lot. You're just trying to say in the gas as much as you can through (Turns) 8 and 9 down the hill. You shift into high gear in that long left-hand sweeper and now you're coming into probably the hardest turn on the track, Turn 10, the fast right-hander. And it requires not much braking - a little downshift to third gear. And as the car turns in, you're right back in the gas going down into Turn 11. And then you're best passing zone on the track - you're braking real hard going down to first gear and then you have that long 180. And then you're just headed up through the gears to the start/finish line - first, second, third, and fourth."
Q: CARL EDWARDS MENTIONED YOU HAD TRAINED HIM. ARE THERE A LOT OF DRIVERS YOU'VE TAUGHT ON ROAD COURSES AND WHO ARE THEY?
SAID: "Yes, pretty much anyone who asks. I've gone and tested with a lot of people. Dale Earnhardt is probably the most famous..Carl Edwards, Jon Wood, and Jamie McMurray. I'm trying to think of names but there are about 20 of them. I've tested Dale Jarrett's car - Jimmy Spencer, Johnny Benson, Sterling Marlin's car, and Elliott Sadler's."
Q: WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE BETWEEN DRIVING A HEAVY STOCK CAR AND A LIGHTER SPORTS CAR ON A ROAD COURSE?
SAID: "It's more about managing the weight. They're so heavy. They have so much horsepower. So you're managing the weight and trying to get the thing to turn and change direction. And then you have to get the power down because it's easy to spin the tires."
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FORMULA ONE MICHELIN TIRE ISSUE AT INDY ON SUNDAY?
SAID: "Well, I can't say it on the air. That's a joke that they didn't give the fans a race. I was shocked. I don't think it was Ferrari's fault. Bridgestone had a tire that could make it. I think the Michelin guys should have raced and they should have just slowed down. But that was just the most unbelievable thing I've seen in racing. If I was a driver, I wouldn't have come in. I would have stayed out and I probably would have gotten in a lot of trouble."
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHY SO MANY DRIVERS, TEAMS, AND FANS THINK YOU'RE COOL?
SAID: "No, I don't, because I think I'm kind of a dork. But I have no idea."
Q: YOU HAVE A PERSONABLE WAY WITH YOUR RACING ETIQUETTE. DID YOU LEARN THAT OR DID IT COME NATURALLY?
SAID: "No, just naturally. I've just always been a pretty brutally honest guy. Sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes it doesn't. But you pretty much know where you stand with me."
Q: SO DO YOU THINK YOUR HONESTY IS WHY PEOPLE ARE ATTRACTED TO YOU?
SAID: "I don't really know. You'd have to ask someone else because I don't know if I'd be attracted to myself."
Q: ON HIS EFFORTS IN THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES
SAID: "It's awesome. I've never had this type of opportunity before. I've been trying and trying to get someone to give me the opportunity. CENTRIX Financial came on board last year as the official auto finance company of NASCAR and it's kind of a funny coincidence because they're known for making people realize their dream that get turned down everywhere they go. That's what they specialize in. so it's kind of ironic that they're my sponsor. But they're giving me a chance to do 13 or 14 races and if I can prove that I can do it on the ovals, I think I'll get a chance to do more races next year. It's a long shot - given the experience I have on the ovals, but I welcome the challenge and I'm having a great time. It's going to help me on the road courses. Last year, when I showed up at Infineon - usually that's the first time I've even seen the crew guys or been in the car since Watkins Glen in August the year before. Just working with the guys at Daytona and doing these long races, even though we've only done three or four races, I'm just way ahead of where I was last year."
Q: WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?
SAID: "These guys are good. It's amazing how fast they go. I think I can drive a car pretty deep into a corner. These guys on these ovals - you think that's as deep as you can go and they go by you - 300 feet deeper than you. You just really can't relate on TV what they're actually doing and how hard it is. But that's what makes them the best drivers in the world."
Q: WITH ALL THE TIME YOU'VE SPEND TEACHING OTHER DRIVERS, HOW HAVE THEY RETURNED THAT FAVOR TO HELP YOU WITH THE OVALS?
SAID: "Oh, a lot. The stuff I'm getting from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray and Elliott Sadler and Jimmie Johnson at Charlotte - it's just stuff that cuts the learning time down a lot. If I didn't get help from these guys I would have looked like a monkey out there in all these races. Not that I've set the world on fire yet. I've been respectable making most of the races I've entered. I've only missed one and I feel pretty proud about that. But they've just given me so much information. Still, you need to go out there an experience it. Then you know what they're talking about. And then you just need more laps."
Q: WILL IT TAKE A FULL SEASON TO GET THE TEAM RAMPED UP? WHAT'S YOUR TIMETABLE?
SAID: "I always put more pressure on myself than anybody. As expensive as the sport is, people want to see results. Scott Riggs is a perfect example. He was a frontrunner in Trucks and Busch and he came to Cup last year and he struggled the first half of the year. For a while, it looked like a bad investment and he wouldn't pay off. But then, his experience showed and he turned things around. And now, he's showing everyone he deserves to be there. I hope it's like that for me. Hopefully it won't take that long, but I hope I see the same progress that he has. He's helped me a lot and Joe Nemechek has helped me a lot. The three of us work really well together."
Q: IT MUST BE REALLY HELPFUL TO BE PART OF A TEAM LIKE THAT
SAID: "Oh, yes because right now I go to the races and I don't have to come with a set-up that you're just shooting out of the hip. We go to the track with exactly what Joe Nemechek has. And so until I can go as fast as he can like that, at least I'm in the ballpark."
Q: IS NEXTEL CUP RACING AS TIGHT AND AS TOUGH AS IT'S EVER BEEN?
SAID: "I think you see it more than it's ever been. Look at the Charlotte race, for example. I heard a comment by Kevin Lepage -- that there were so many wrecks and crashes - his comment was that people were just racing too hard. Well, that's what you're supposed to be doing. You see how competitive it is and how fast you're going and yeah, stuff is going to happen when you're trying that hard. It's just never been this competitive before. That's what makes the sport awesome."