School in Session for Roush Road Racers at VIR Alton, Va. (Feb. 21) -- Roush Racing's NASCAR Busch Series test program included a stop at VIRginia International Raceway today, as the team prepares for its upcoming road-course race at Mexico...
School in Session for Roush Road Racers at VIR
Alton, Va. (Feb. 21) -- Roush Racing's NASCAR Busch Series test program included a stop at VIRginia International Raceway today, as the team prepares for its upcoming road-course race at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, scheduled for March 5.
NASCAR Nextel Cup star Carl Edwards and 2005 Craftsman Truck Series rookie of the year Todd Kluever were at the track today, being tutored by veteran road racer Boris Said. Said, who has logged hundreds of laps around VIR and won a Trans-Am Series race at the facility in 2002, is generally considered to be one of the foremost experts on the intricacies of the track's rolling terrain and technical corners.
For Kluever, who will drive the No. 06 3M Ford Fusion in the Busch Series this year in addition to seven Nextel Cup races as he prepares to take over the No. 6 AAA Nextel Cup Fusion from the legendary Mark Martin next year, road racing is an entirely new discipline.
"I've never run a road course race before, so we're trying to learn as fast as we can," he said. "Boris has been good enough to come help us. He knows this place like the back of his hand, and it's great to have someone who is as good as he is in a road racing car here to teach you. You can learn so much from a guy like him."
Edwards, who pilots the No. 60 Ameriquest Ford Fusion in the Busch Series in addition to his pursuit for the Nextel Cup championship, has more road racing experience, having raced on road courses in both of NASCAR's top series last year. He credits Said as a big benefit in honing his skills.
"Boris is helping me a lot here," he explained. "It's a huge asset to have a guy like him come and help us. You can tell when he's going around here, it's like he knows so much about it, he can't tell you everything he knows because there's just so much. It's pretty amazing. It's a huge help."
The personable Said, who will drive for Evernham Motorsports this year in the Nextel Cup Series road races, serves as driver coach for both Evernham and Roush Racing. He gave both his students high marks.
"They're doing good," he said. "This is the second time up here with Todd. Carl and I came up here last year. They've never road raced before, so they just need to get some laps. They seem like they're pretty quick learners, and VIR is a great place to teach them."
Said will be racing at VIR twice during the 2006 season. Driving a BMW M3 for Turner Motorsports in the Grand American Road Racing Association's Grand-Am Cup Series, he will race April 21-23 during the VIR 400 event, and in the season-ending Grand-Am Cup 12-Hour Enduro over the weekend of October 6-8. Today he was riding shotgun in a special Busch Series car equipped with two seats, the better to more closely observe and teach his young subjects.
"I've never thought of myself as a teacher," he said, "but I'm pretty good at explaining how I drive. Roush has built a two-seater, and sitting in the car you can point out mistakes a lot quicker and stop them from making a catastrophic mistake, like going off and wrecking. It's just quicker, better feedback when you're sitting there next to them."
He said that the training for skilled competitors like Kluever and Edwards was mostly about subtleties.
"The biggest difference between this and oval racing is really more just how you brake and downshift, and things like that," Said added. "Car control, they know that."
When it was suggested that perhaps his students would be grateful enough to share part of their winnings once they master road racing, Said laughed.
"I don't know," he grinned. "I came up here last year and taught Carl, and then he went down to Mexico and kicked my butt! I didn't get anything! That doesn't seem right, does it?"
Perhaps, if his students find their way to victory lane in Mexico next month, they'll remember to take care of the tall man with the fuzzy hair who helped them get there.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, which is a sales showroom for high-end collector and racing cars; The Lodge at VIR and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.
For more information on VIR, visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434-822-7700.