NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series BORIS SAID WON HIS FIRST NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES EVENT THIS PAST WEEKEND AT SEARS POINT. THE VICTORY CAME IN SAID'S 54TH START IN THE SERIES, AND ENDED A 77-RACE VICTORY DROUGHT FOR IRVAN/SIMO RACING...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
BORIS SAID WON HIS FIRST NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES EVENT THIS PAST WEEKEND AT SEARS POINT. THE VICTORY CAME IN SAID'S 54TH START IN THE SERIES, AND ENDED A 77-RACE VICTORY DROUGHT FOR IRVAN/SIMO RACING SINCE JOE RUTTMAN WON AT MARTINSVILLE IN 1995.
SAID STARTED FROM THE OUTSIDE POLE POSITION ON SUNDAY, AND WON BY THE LARGEST MARGIN OF ANY NCT EVENT THIS SEASON, FINISHING 6.549 SECONDS AHEAD OF RUNNER-UP MIKE BLISS. BORIS LED 47 LAPS OF THE 77-LAP EVENT.
BORIS SAID - NO. 44 FEDERATED AUTO PARTS FORD F-150 -"It wasn't easy winning one of these races, I can tell you that. I've been trying for two years. It felt great to finally win one."
YOU'VE BEEN CLOSE THIS YEAR AT WATKINS GLEN AND TOPEKA BUT SUFFERED MECHANICAL FAILURES IN BOTH EVENTS. DID YOU START HEARING THINGS IN THE TRUCK TOWARD THE END OF THE RACE SUNDAY? "It seems like the last ten laps you keep listening to the truck, and thinking, I haven't heard that before. You hear all kinds of crazy noises. The last couple of laps I was going pretty slow just trying to get to the end figuring I'd just baby it. Ford is one tough truck, and this weekend it held together good."
WAS IT AN EMOTIONAL RACE FOR YOU BECAUSE OF ERNIE IRVAN'S CRASH AT TALLADEGA? "It was tough. It was a bad weekend for the management at Irvan/Simo Racing. The other owner, Mark Simo, had a big crash at Road Atlanta on Saturday. Of course he was okay. I just sat down to eat lunch (on Sunday) and I saw Ernie crash. That was a tough deal. I had never watched a friend of mine crash like that, live on TV. The worst part about it was I couldn't get hold of anybody at the track. I tried his mobile number, his wife's mobile number, the trailer, the transporter, and I couldn't get a hold of anybody. That was kind of frustrating, but it turned out Ernie is fine. I talked to him again this morning, and he's back to 100% now."
YOU CAME FROM A ROAD RACING BACKGROUND HAVING RACED ALL OVER THE WORLD ON VARIOUS ROAD COURSES IN VARIOUS SERIES. YOUR FATHER, BOB SAID, WAS A TOP ROAD RACER BACK IN THE 50'S AND 60'S. COMPARE THE TRUCK SERIES TO YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN ROAD RACING. "It is a amazing the depth of the field in NASCAR. Coming from road racing, people are separated by tenths of a second and half a second. Going back to the grid at Martinsville, I qualified fifth and I was only three one hundredths off the pole. I was only six or seven one thousandths off the guy in third place. So it is just amazing to me how close the competition is, and how competitive everybody is. You race so hard from first back to 20th. I've never had that in other forms of racing. There's always been five or six good guys, and you were looking for half a second gains instead of a tenth here or there. It is quite a difference."
WHAT SIMILARITIES ARE THERE BETWEEN THE TRUCK AND THE CARS YOU HAVE DRIVEN ON ROAD COURSES? IS THERE SOMETHING FROM EACH KIND OF RACING YOU CAN BRING TOGETHER? "I think so. I've raced a Trans-Am car, a GT car. Those are quite different because they are light and they have a lot of grip and a lot more brakes. But when I first started racing in showroom stock cars, like a Ford Mustang, those are comparable in weight and you run on street tires so you don't have much grip or a lot of brakes. So there are some similarities with the track, like how they feel and the roll. They just don't have the horsepower. I think you learn a little bit everywhere."
WHAT ABOUT THE SET-UP? COULD YOU TELL THE TRUCK CREW THE SAME THING YOU COULD TELL THE CREW WHEN YOU WERE IN A CAR? "Not at all. That is one thing that is completely different because mostly in a car you are working on aerodynamic pieces like you can pull the front splitter out or raise the rear wing. The truck has a million adjustments, but they are more the roll centers, shocks and air pressure. That part is completely different. The good part is when I go to a road course, I don't have to learn the track like I do at most of the ovals that I'm seeing for the first or second time. I've been there thousands of laps in different vehicles. Right away I can say the truck needs to do this better or that better, and we'll be fine. Where on an oval at times if it is tight or loose I have to second guess myself because it might be the way I'm driving, not the way it is set up. That is a big difference I think."
EDDIE CHEEVER SAID WHEN HE FIRST CAME OVER FROM FORMULA ONE THAT HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE WALLS. IS THAT A FEELING YOU HAVE ON THE OVALS? "I think I'm getting better. I've run a lot of street races where you get very close to concrete so I don't think that ever bothered me. But the little nuances in running an oval which make it different is hard to get used to. The real fast ovals, I really love them, and I think they're a blast."
WHAT NUANCES WERE THE TOUGHEST TO OVERCOME? "In a good road racing car, you're on the brakes or you are on the gas peddle. You don't do a lot of coasting or rolling through the corners. In a stock car on the really tight tracks, you've got to learn not to over use the brakes, and let the car or the truck just roll in. In a good road racing car you are on the brakes as hard as you can and then you are right on the gas peddle again. So there is a difference there - the finesse that is involved racing ovals."
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH THE PROGRESS YOU HAVE MADE WITH YOUR OVAL RACING? "Yeah, like last year we finished second on an oval (Texas) and fourth at New Hampshire, and we ran second for a long time at Bristol. This year I thought I'd be a little more consistent in the top-five or ten, but we've been snake bit by a lot of bad luck. But the Federated crew has been sticking with me and hopefully the luck will change and we will run a little better. I'm pretty hard on myself so I always want to be further ahead than where we are, but I think we're making some good gains."
FOR A DRIVER WHO HAS WON AT LEMANS, THE 24 HOURS AT DAYTONA AND ALL THESE SPORTY CAR RACES, WHAT WAS THE SHOCK WHEN YOU GOT IN A TRUCK AND EXPERIENCED RUBBING? "I've always been pretty aggressive as a racer, so I enjoy that. I think it's fun. The biggest difference in road racing you might rub a guy once or twice, especially in Europe. In Europe they are a lot more aggressive than they are in America. But on the ovals you run that close for two hours some times. That is why I like NASCAR. NASCAR makes the rules so equal everybody is running close. I think it's what makes it fun."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW CONFIGURATION AT SEARS POINT? "The first thing that comes to my mind is it sucks, to be brutally honest. I think if you had never been to Sears Point before, I'd say this is a great track. I love it. It's one of my favorites. But running the old track for so many years, that carousel was one of the best turns in this country, and I miss it. Part of me hates it. Part of me says it is still a great track. They did a fantastic job on the track in the new section, but I miss the old section."
HOW MUCH DID THEY CUT OFF? "They cut off a half a mile. They took away some good passing zones for me, and they've made the track a lot easier. Guys that don't like road racing think it's great, and guys that like road racing probably kind of miss it."
WHAT ARE YOUR LONG TERM ASPIRATIONS IN RACING? "I think anybody in racing would say the pinnacle of racing is NASCAR Winston Cup. I got a taste of that this year in a Ford for Jimmy Spencer. Am I ready for that right now? No. But hopefully somewhere down the road I'll be in a Ford Taurus running the Daytona 500."
LOOKING AHEAD TO BAKERSFIELD WHAT ROLE DOES THE MOMENTUM FROM THE SEARS POINT RACE PLAY? WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE KEY ON THAT LITTLE TIGHT RACE TRACK? "I think definitely the team is pumped up, and I think it is going to help a little bit. I'm still going to have to be pretty realistic. Bakersfield is a tough little half mile. It's a bullring, and there is a lot of pushing and shoving. Hopefully, I can stay out of trouble. Realistically if I can get a top-five finish in my Ford I'd be pretty happy. The big thing at Bakersfield will probably be tire wear and keeping out of the wrecks."
IS IT A BIGGER CHALLENGE TO BE A COMPLETE DRIVER IN ROAD RACING THAN IN OVAL RACING? "That's a tough question. Ernie always tells me you can drive a road course with ten turns, but you get on an oval with two turns - why can't you be as good? I don't think it's any harder or easier to road race or race on an oval. It's just different. Until you have the experience and the track miles, you struggle a little bit. It takes the same amount of skill to be a good golfer as it does to be a good basketball player. I don't think is one or harder or easier than the other. I think in different sports you still have to put in the same effort and the same time into it. You look at Tiger Woods. He has spent his whole life playing golf. If he decided now to be a professional baseball player like Mark McGwire, do you think he could do it right away? I don't think so. He knows how to do it, how to learn, how to train himself, but they're different skills. I think it is the same in road racing and oval racing."
YOUR TEAM MADE A CREW CHIEF CHANGE MID SEASON. HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE HAS THIS MADE? "Jay Smith did a great job for the team. He was pretty instrumental in building the team. He left on good terms. He wanted a new challenge, and he wanted to go Busch racing so he actually decided to leave. Jerry, who was working at the shop, is a great crew chief. It was just something a little new, and every time you do something new it adds excitement. He gets along great with the guys. I just think it is the time the guys have spent together. They are starting to gel better and work better together. We're really pleased with the way Jerry has taken over."
WITH HIS EXPERIENCE AT SEARS POINT, DID JERRY BRING ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO THE SET-UP THAN WHAT YOU DID LAST YEAR? "Not really. I have a lot of experience there, and we have an engineer, Doug Louth, who designed that truck. They built that truck in-house so we had a pretty good starting point. We really didn't have to do that much to the truck."
WHO DOES THE STRATEGY FOR THAT ON YOUR TEAM? "It is kind of a group effort. At Sears Point we all talked before the race, and it was a combination between Lee Morse and Jerry and myself. We didn't really want to get stuck into one strategy. We wanted to see where the yellows fell. Going into the race we planned on doing two green flag stops for four tires. When the yellows fell right in our window we decided to take advantage of it."
EARLY IN YOUR CAREER YOU WERE A ONE MAN BAND. COULD YOU EXPAND ON THAT? "When I started racing in 1987 I did four races that year. Two of the races were six hour endurance races, and I went with two friends who put fuel in the car. I drove the whole six hours, and I got out and changed tires with a t-handle. I was the co-driver, the truck driver and the tire changer. Things have changed."