Said, 52, is ready to make his XFINITY Series debut on the 2.66-mile track.
It’s the weekend “Said Heads” have been waiting for – Boris Said returns to NASCAR action this weekend behind the wheel of the No. 54 Monster Enegry Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at Talladega Superspeedway.
In 10 years of XFINITY Series action, Said, 52, has never raced with that tour on the 2.66-mile superspeedway. However, Said has two Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. Although he’s struggled on the Cup side at Talladega with finishes of 35th and 27th in 2007 and 2005, respectively, JGR has a stout record of five wins, four poles, 11 top fives and 14 top-10 finishes in 34 races.
Said, who won the NXS race at Montreal in 2010, was enlisted for the ride last December. In addition this weekend’s race, Said will run non-companion NXS events at Iowa Speedway (May 17, August 1), Chicagoland Speedway (June 20), Mid Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 15), Road America (August 29) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 26).
I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to race for a top team and to get to do this in my 29th year of racing.
“I've know about this since right before Christmas,” Said said. “It was great when I got the call from Joe Gibbs Racing. I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to race for a top team and to get to do this in my 29th year of racing.
"Needless to say, it was one of the best presents I ever got. Imagine the feeling of getting a great Christmas present and then having to wait until May to play with it!”
The right stuff
Chris Gayle, crew chief of the No. 54 Toyota, won this race last season with Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 JGR Toyota. The former team engineer honed his skills on the No. 18 Sprint Cup team with Kyle Busch prior to moving to the XFINITY Series.
I’m looking forward to working with Boris for the first time and to developing a little communication between us at the track.
“It’s always exciting to go back speedway racing and to Talladega after a stretch of intermediate and short-track events,” Gayle said. “The speedway events provide a different set of challenges compared to our normal racing. It’s more of a mental challenge of positioning and working with the other drivers to keep yourself in a spot to get the correct run, and help, at the end of these events.
“It’s also neat to go back to the racetrack where you won last year. It definitely makes you remember that feeling and work hard to get back into victory lane. I’m looking forward to working with Boris for the first time and to developing a little communication between us at the track, and more importantly getting some communication started between spotter Tony Hirschman and Boris. The spotter/driver communication will be vital in Talladega. It’s important we avoid any mistakes and keep the car in a good position all day.”
Back to business
Said has an extensive 29-year racing resume which in addition to NASCAR includes multiple starts in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, K&N Pro Series East, NASCAR Southwest, ARCA, V8 Supercars, Rolex Grand-Am, Sports Car, American Le Mans and the Tudor United Sportscar Championship Series.
In the NXS, Said has one wins, two poles, six top fives and seven top 10s in 23 starts.
“Obviously the No. 54 Monster Energy group is used to running up front and going for the win,” Said added. “We’ll have to tone the expectations down a little for the ovals, but I’m hoping to run in the top-ten throughout the day.
“I’m excited to get in the Monster Energy Toyota and get racing. But actually, I’m excited to get to Talladega. That place is wild, as you never know what could happen there.”