13 Days Until The Budweiser Shootout Boris Said Finally Gets His Chance at an Oval (Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004) -- Let's be honest. There is much more riding on this year's Budweiser Shootout than just trophies and prize earnings, for an age-old ...
13 Days Until The Budweiser Shootout
Boris Said Finally Gets His Chance at an Oval
(Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004) -- Let's be honest. There is much more riding on this year's Budweiser Shootout than just trophies and prize earnings, for an age-old question is about to be answered: How would a road-course specialist fare on an oval?
It's for that reason many NASCAR fans are eagerly awaiting the Feb. 7 all-star event. When road-racer/hired gun Boris Said won the pole at Infineon Raceway last June, he did more than just give his team a front-row starting spot in the Dodge/Save Mart 350. He also qualified himself for a race that -- dare we say -- takes place on an oval.
Not just any oval, but the oval -- the one where NASCAR mandates restrictor plates to keep the cars below 200 mph. The one that has big, sweeping left turns and 31 degrees of banking. When NASCAR traditionalists yell, "Let's see how you would do on a real track" this is the one they are talking about -- Daytona International Speedway. And truth be known, Said couldn't be more pumped.
"I'm really excited," said the road-course expert. "Driving on a superspeedway is probably the most different thing I've ever done. Last month I went and tested at Daytona, ran in the draft, and it was really cool."
Having won the Sonoma pole, Said became one of 22 drivers eligible to race in the 26th running of the Budweiser Shootout. He will drive the No. 01 Chevrolet Monte Carlo fielded by MB2 Motorsports, the same team that hired him last June to compete in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 in place of the injured Jerry Nadeau. He finished sixth to cap a weekend in which he recorded his best start and finish in his Cup career.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd win a pole," he said. "Winning the pole at Infineon was one of the greatest thrills of my career, and it gave me a chance to be in the Budweiser Shootout. I've been working on trying to get a ride on any oval I can."
To help prepare for ovals and, more importantly, become familiar with the draft, Said entered an Auto Racing Club of America (ARCA) event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last September. He started the Food World 300 in 11th position and finished 24th, this after seeing the mammoth track for the first time only two weeks earlier.
"When we flew in I saw this big track and it looked just like it does on TV, but when we drove inside the track, it looked nothing like it did on TV," the Carlsbad, Calif., native said. "It was just so big. Our goal (at Talladega) was to learn some things about how the car reacts with 40 other cars out there, and get a feel for racing on superspeedways. I've always loved (Nextel) Cup racing, stock car racing, and racing at Talladega was a lot of fun."
Should Said, the 2002 SCCA Trans-AM champion, put on an impressive show in the Budweiser Shootout, it could be the biggest break of his career.
"Nextel Cup is the most competitive form of racing in the world. It's a big challenge to be part of that show. It's something I'm working to be full time in the next year or the year after that. That's my goal right now -- to become a Nextel Cup driver. I'm going to keep working on it."
The 26th running of the Budweiser Shootout is scheduled for Sat., Feb. 7. It can be seen live on TNT at 8 p.m. ET. For race tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP.