Daytona Shootout: GM - Said/Irvan interview

Boris Said, Driver No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in The Budweiser Shootout, and Ernie Irvan, His Coach, Visited with The Media Today. The following are highlights of their comments: ERNIE IRVAN HOW IS BORIS SAID DOING IN HIS PREPARATION FOR...

Boris Said, Driver No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in The Budweiser Shootout, and Ernie Irvan, His Coach, Visited with The Media Today. The following are highlights of their comments:

ERNIE IRVAN

HOW IS BORIS SAID DOING IN HIS PREPARATION FOR THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? "He's doing exceptionally well since he hasn't been on the race track yet. He's got everybody covered right now. I'm just here to be able to answer questions for Boris, if he asks. He's leaning on a lot of people to get some confidence when he goes out there to make sure he can fit in and be able to go out there and draft and do a good job."

BORIS SAID

YOU WERE EXCITED WHEN YOU QUALIFIED FOR THE BUD SHOOTOUT LAST JUST AT SONOMA. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU NOW, THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE? "I can't wait for it to start. I've been waiting for this since about five minutes after winning the pole at Infineon knowing that I was going to be able to drive a NEXTEL Cup car at Daytona. It's something I've never done. It's a big challenge. I have zero experience. I've been drawing on my friend Ernie's experience. Dale Jr. has been helping me a lot. I've helped him in his road racing program, so he's coaching me a little bit on this. To be in the U.S. Army Chevrolet after what's going on in the world right now makes me proud. I'm just watching the clock like a little kid waiting for Christmas."

BORIS SAID

IS THERE TOO MUCH MADE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROAD RACING AT THE TOP LEVEL AND NASCAR RACING? "No. To be at the top level in any sport is not any easier. It's just as hard to become the top badminton player or the top road racer or the top NEXTEL Cup racer. You have competition. It's a different sport. Driving the road racing cars I'm used to, require a completely different set of skills in a way than driving a NEXTEL Cup car. It's just like it's different set of skills to be a quarterback for the New England Patriots. But I feel like I'm up for the challenge and it's something I've always wanted to do. As long as you think about it, you can do it. You can make the transition. Look at Tony Stewart. He came into the Rolex 24 Hour race here last weekend and I won $100 bucks off of my team owner because the first thing he said was, 'Oh these NASCAR guys can't drive in the rain and they can't road race. I think there are a few exceptions in NEXTEL Cup that are great road racers and he's one of them. There are great road racers that have tried to go NEXTEL Cup racing but haven't been able to make the transition for whatever reason. But some of them have. Scott Pruitt has. Ron Fellows has. I feel like I have. I've run pretty decent on the road courses here."

IRVAN: "There is no doubt that road racing and oval track racing are as different as day and night. It's hard for a road course racer to get in these cars and be able to do a very good job on the oval tracks because they don't really have the experience to do it. The other thing is that you have to get with a team that is able to put what you need underneath you. Obviously the Army team has got all the pieces of the puzzle. Boris has just got to fit in and go out there and make sure he does a good job. If Boris somehow can finish in the top 10, that would be exceptional. Whenever I came down and ran the Bud Shootout, I was always looking to try to win. We have a different perspective on what success will be for Boris. If he can get out there and finish in the lead draft and somehow be in the top 10 that would be great. That's what's real different about a road racer. All the talent in the world isn't going to make you go any faster - especially here on the superspeedways.

BORIS SAID

HOW PREPARED ARE YOU FOR BEING LEFT BEHIND IN THE DRAFT BECAUSE THE OTHER DRIVERS AREN'T USED TO RUNNING WITH YOU? "No matter what happens, I'm going to have a great time. This is something that realistically; everyone is expecting me to fail. So anything I do better than that is a plus. But growing up, I wanted to be a race car driver. You start idolizing people like Dale Earnhardt. I always thought if I could drive like anybody, it would be that guy. He was the master at this place. I've watched so many races here. To be able to come here and race on that same track - even if I lose the draft - it's great weekend for me. I appreciate the opportunity of the Army and Jay Frye to be able to do that. Who knows? Some day I want a Cup ride. I want to figure out how to do it. I've shown people I can do it on the road courses. Last year we had a pole at Infineon and a good finish. At Watkins Glen we had a legitimate chance to win the race. Unfortunately, we got taken out by Robby Gordon. I must have backed into him. But I'm prepared for anything this weekend. But most of all, I'm going to have a good time."

BORIS SAID

ON HIS APPROACH TO THE BUD SHOOTOUT: "Ernie has actually helped me a lot during the past couple of years in my road races in NEXTEL Cup. I've gotten a lot better. He always says you've got to be patient. You've got to be patient. And he used to drive like a mad dog. But it was really good advice because I've learned not to break the car and not to wear it out. I've learned how to be there at the end when it really counts. I'm sure I'll make mistakes in the race and get out of the draft and lose the draft. Hopefully I'll keep the fenders on it. I'm just going to be learning what moves do what. It's not to say that I don't always try to win and always try to do my best. But I'm not going to take any crazy chances."

ERNIE IRVAN

CAN YOU ADDRESS WHAT YOU'VE TAUGHT BORIS? "I've told him that the most important thing is that you have to finish before you can win. I've been preaching that to him the whole time. Obviously I'm not the best one to teach patience. I've been crucified for my lack of patience. But again, the patience is the hardest thing to learn and the easiest thing to forget. You go out there and feel what the car is doing - every car is either loose or tight - and figure out what it's going to take to go faster. Maybe I'll be able to help him with something he says. Mike Skinner is going to be driving one of the other cars out of the same house and maybe he can help him too."

ERNIE IRVAN

ON JERRY NADEAU'S ACCIDENT AND ONGOING RECOVERY "I actually did a go-kart race a couple of months ago with Jerry and his dad out at Charlotte. I realize what Jerry is going through and it's tough. Everybody's head injury or problem is different. The human body is so complex. You just never realize it. Jerry was suffering with being numb on half of his body. I never suffered with that. I had one part where I was numb with my foot. The doctors didn't know it. They can't feel what you're feeling. They can't figure out why Jerry is numb. It's odd. There is nothing you can say or do. Obviously he is being as cautious as he can. But he's making small steps and that's what you have to do. Everybody said there was no way I'd be able to do it (race) again. I have no idea how I was able to do it. It just so happened that God enabled me to do that."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ernie Irvan , Mike Skinner , Boris Said , Robby Gordon , Ron Fellows