Auberlen, Said teleconference transcript (part 3)

Continued from part 2 ADAM SAAL: Earlier this year, Boris, you guys won at Phoenix, and finishing in second place was the Gunnar Racing Porsche with Kyle Petty guest driving on Easter weekend. You said on the PA you beat Kyle Petty on half an...

Continued from part 2

ADAM SAAL: Earlier this year, Boris, you guys won at Phoenix, and finishing in second place was the Gunnar Racing Porsche with Kyle Petty guest driving on Easter weekend. You said on the PA you beat Kyle Petty on half an oval, which was true, because it was the stadium road course layout we had.

You're going to be running against these guys on their turf. We touched on that a little bit, but you already know a lot of these guys. Who are your best friends in the NEXTEL Cup Series right now?

BORIS SAID: I have a lot of friends. I guess Dale Earnhardt Jr., would be probably one of my closest friends right now. Of course, Ernie Irvan, he's not racing anymore, but we still talk every day. There's just a lot of them. Everyone I've helped out on their road course stuff seems to have stayed pretty close.

You know, when I went and did Fontana a few weeks ago, a lot of those guys helped me an awful lot. Even though I qualified 36th, it felt like a win for me. Then just to run all the laps in the race, I mean, I probably couldn't have done it without the help I got from my buddies over there.

ADAM SAAL: Who are the best road course guys there?

BORIS SAID: There's a lot of them. You've got to say Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart. I think Dale Jr. is underrated as a road racer. He's really good. You've got your veterans like Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd. There's so many now because over the last few years, they worked on their road racing so much, you know, they're all good at it. I think there's 10 or 15 that could actually win a road race easy.

Q: Bill, with the move of Grand-Am GT to basically a lower class, they're trying to bring them closer to the SGS class cars. I know you're very loyal to BMW, but are you apprehensive about racing a slower car next year?

BILL AUBERLEN: Absolutely. It's killing me. I mean, I definitely don't -- any race car driver in your career never wants to go slower. I don't think the object is to go downhill, downhill.

They have a big marketing scheme that they look at, but they don't consider what a driver wants. They don't care about that. That doesn't matter to them. But you always want to go faster. I always want to go to prototype or something bigger.

Yeah, it is an issue, something you consider.  But what do you do?  Walk
away from BMW?  I'm still trying to figure it out.

ADAM SAAL: It won't be turned into an SGS class. Essentially GT will come down slightly, while SGS, as it's known right now, will be folded in. There's a lot of smart people involved in racing, in addition to talented drivers who want to go fast. Just like we're seeing in Daytona Prototype where they're turning increasingly fast lap times that even rival the early days of old GTP, I suspect there's enough smart people behind the fence, we'll get as much speed out of these cars as they can. We look forward to giving them that challenge.

Q: Boris, we've talked in the past about you helping the NASCAR drivers on the road courses. Which is harder? Is it harder for a road racer to learn an oval or an oval guy to learn a road course? Who's helped you the most on ovals?

BORIS SAID: I think on the ovals, I mean, I'd say Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Joe Nemechek right now. I've torn their ear off asking them questions about Fontana and now on Homestead, and even Daytona when I did the Bud Shootout.

I think it's harder to go from something you have a lot of experience in to something you don't have any experience in. So I don't think you could say it's harder to race ovals or harder to road course race. But, you know, someone like me that's done all road courses, and then you get on an oval, it's hard because you just don't have the experience.

I think it's the same for, you know, guys like that. If you take a guy like Brian Vickers or somebody like that, all he's ever done is ovals, now road racing is all new to him.

It's teaching an old dog new tricks. I don't think either one is harder than the other.

Q: You say this is going to be announced in a couple weeks.

BORIS SAID:  Yep.  I think a couple weeks they're going to announce it.
Then they'll announce the sponsor and everything.  I can't keep my mouth
shut.  I'm so excited about it, finally getting the opportunity to do
some of the big races.  I just can't wait to get going.

ADAM SAAL: You did say you will be racing at the Homestead finale.

BORIS SAID: Yeah. Because basically that's going to be a USG Durock brand car. That was the car we were going to race at Watkins Glen, but when qualifying got rained out, they're kind of making this up as a makeup race. That should be pretty exciting, too.

Q: Same team or new team next year?

BORIS SAID: It will be with MB2 Motorsports, the same team I've been running with this year. Jay Frye and Nelson Bowers are the team owners. I think the sponsor is also going to be a team owner when they announce that.

Q: So 12 races, including the road course, Daytona. Any other tracks? California?

BORIS SAID: For sure we'll do California again just because we did decent there. But we'll do the Brickyard, Texas, Daytona, Talladega, most of the bigger tracks right now. Hopefully I can talk them into a Bristol or Martinsville. But we haven't got that definite yet on the schedule.

Q: Why did they decide to split you guys up in the middle of the season?

BORIS SAID: Bill? I don't know.

BILL AUBERLEN: I don't know. We have ideas. For me to say what it would be would be probably not too politically correct. I mean, Boris would probably be more outspoken, and he would probably tell you why.

What is it, Boris?

BORIS SAID: I think we had two rookies in one car, then two experienced guys in another car. I think they just wanted to maybe break up the rookies and see if they could get two cars up front consistently. I think that was one of the reasons probably.

Q: They never gave you anything definite, though?

BORIS SAID: I mean, we're part of a big team. They basically came down and said, "This isn't about you guys, this is about BMW, and we're making a decision for BMW that it would be better for us." We go along with that because we're team players.

But, you know, if I have to get out of a car and watch a rookie drive and worry about it or watch Bill Auberlen drive, you just feel a lot more comfortable with a guy that you know wins races every time. Not to say anything bad about our teammates, because they're doing a great job, it's just what you're used to.

Q: Bill, what is it that you see yourself doing? You've been hanging around with BMW for a while now. What is it that you see yourself doing in five years' time? You have a bit of road racing ahead of you. Do you harbor a desire to move into Cup like Boris does or do you want to just stay on those left and right turns?

BILL AUBERLEN: That's a really good question because I'm feeling like I'm right at a turning point in my career right now. If I decide to go do something like that, I've got to do it now. I can't wait any longer. I've got to get into it now.

Well, I don't know. I don't have the contacts that Boris has. I haven't really pursued it too much. The BMW thing has worked out so good for me, I've been so fortunate to be with the factory for nine years, that's been great. In the next year or two, if they decide to sort of pursue the Daytona Prototype, I can see that have some longevity to it.

I would like to run with them for a while. If not, I'm going have to make a decision as to whether or not I stay there or go somewhere else.

Q: Boris, where are you?

BORIS SAID:  On the airport runway in Monterey.  Just came up with Mike
Davis in a little private plane.  It's a beautiful day to fly.

Q: Are you running there this weekend?

BORIS SAID: I'm running the World Challenge race with the Trans-Am team, with the ACS team in the Mustang.

ADAM SAAL: Thank you very much. I want to thank Bill Auberlen and Boris Said for taking time out of a busy schedule to join us today.

Also we will have another teleconference possibly in this same time slot next Wednesday with the championship contenders for the overall Daytona Prototype Division in the Rolex Sports Car Series. That would be Scott Pruett, Max Papis, Wayne Taylor and Andy Wallace. We hope to have all four of them available for you. If we can't get all four, we'll get as many as we can as we prepare for Lexus Championship Weekend at California Speedway.

Thanks to everybody, we appreciate it.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Kyle Petty , Joe Nemechek , Max Papis , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Brian Vickers , Mark Martin