NExtel Wake-Up Call Guests Ron Fellows, Driver of The No. 32 Tide Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Boris Said, Driver of The No. 36 Centrix Chevrolet Monte Carlo Talked With The Media Today About This Weekend's Road Race at The Glen: Q: ON DRIVING IN...
NExtel Wake-Up Call Guests Ron Fellows, Driver of The No. 32 Tide Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Boris Said, Driver of The No. 36 Centrix Chevrolet Monte Carlo Talked With The Media Today About This Weekend's Road Race at The Glen:
Q: ON DRIVING IN BOTH THE BUSCH SERIES AND CUP SERIES THIS WEEKEND
SAID: "I just like racing these cars and if someone is going to give me the keys, I'll drive it. The Busch Series is a good series. There are a lot of cars. I love racing at Watkins Glen. I think it'll be good practice for the Cup race on Sunday and that's the most important think I'm here for and I'd just like to get going."
FELLOWS: "It's fun to race here. We did a last minute deal to get into the No. 43 Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet for the Busch race. I was just getting the seat belts fitted this morning. The cool thing is that we've got Bully Hill Vineyards on the car, a local vineyard here. So it's sort of like old home week. We'll go out and have some fun. I think some of what happens on Saturday we'll be able to apply to Sunday."
Q: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN IN THE BUSCH RACE THAT YOU CAN TAKE TO THE CUP RACE?
SAID: "For me, I hope I learn how to win the race. We've all been fast at times (part-time road course drivers) in NEXTEL Cup, but none of us have won yet. My No. 36 Centrix Chevy has been an unbelievable opportunity for the races I've been able to do -- the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. For me, the ultimate dream and my last real racing goal, is to try to win one of these NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. Anything I can learn in the Busch Series can help. It's all going to be a positive. If not, I'm still going to have fun whether it's win, lose, or draw all weekend."
FELLOWS: "We're obviously going to try to win the race. I wasn't particularly happy with our test last week, but the guys found some stuff back at the shop and I'm hoping that it translates into a little bit more speed. I think Tony Stewart was probably the quickest guy here at the test along with Boris. We'll see what we can do with the Tide Chevy. I'm optimistic and I told the guys this morning that somebody is going to win this race. It might as well be us."
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS PIT STRATEGY AND WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BUSCH AND CUP STRATEGY?
FELLOWS: "I don't think there is any difference in the pit strategy -- one to the other. But what we've seen is that the key is staying on top of pit window obviously and pitting under caution is not the thing to do on a road course -- unless you get a long run going, followed by a caution -- then everybody will pit. Otherwise, you've got to do it under green so when the caution comes out, you gain some track position. It worked for us at Infineon Raceway with the Tide car. A lot of it is in the stars. We've lost a couple of Cup races by just being unlucky when cautions fell. So maybe this will be one where we get lucky."
Q: WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE ABLE TO PULL OFF A CUP VICTORY?
SAID: "For me, it would be a dream come true. I think right now in racing, that's probably one of the hardest wins to get. It would mean the biggest party New York State ever saw, I can tell you that. And I won't be doing anything next week. It's a lofty goal because no part-time guy has ever one. But you never know. Hopefully this will be the week where we change that record."
FELLOWS: Obviously it would be huge to win a NEXTEL Cup race -- primarily just because of the notoriety that the NEXTEL Cup Series enjoys. It's obviously very competitive. We've been fortunate to have great opportunities with GM Racing in showcasing the Camaro in TransAm and then the Corvette program has been very successful. We've had some big wins and championships. But the notoriety that is around NASCAR and NEXTEL Cup, it would be like we've never won a race before. And the prize money is awfully good too (laughs)"
Q: WITH NO PROVISIONALS, DOES THAT TURN THE HEAT UP MORE SO IN QUALIFYING THAN IT HAS IN THE PAST?
FELLOWS: "I don't recall coming in here and ever having a guaranteed spot. We've gotten in on postmarks and you name it to qualify our way into the show. It's certainly in the back of your mind. On top of that you've got to be prepared that what you've put on the car for qualifying, the car is then impounded. It's the same for the Busch Series. We had a little bit of experience with that in Mexico. So it's a lot of work for the crew. You've really got to be well prepared to make sure that what you roll out on Saturday for qualifying is what you're going to want to race on Sunday."
SAID: "Looking from the outside, I think it's better for the full time guys that the top 35 are guaranteed. When you're a part time guy like me, it sucks because it puts so much pressure on you -- like at Indy -- not to make a mistake to get in and it's really hard. But selfishly looking at it, I think it's a really good rule. The guys who are supporting NASCAR week in and week out deserve to be in the show."
Q: NOW THAT YOU'RE WITH A TEAM FOR SEVERAL RACES, DO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT?
SAID: "For sure. This year I have much more of an advantage than I had last year -- especially on Fellows and Scott Pruett. Just five days ago I ran 400 miles at Indianapolis in one of these cars. Just working with Frank Stoddard as a crew chief and the guys, you're just better. The more you run these cars, the better you get at them. It's like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. Scott (Pruett) just jumps out of a Prototype. And Ron (Fellows) just jumps out of a Corvette, and you're working with new people and it's hard to get that communication line open. So this year, I definitely feel like I have my best shot because we've already run six races this year. That's a big advantage for me.
"We've all been fast enough at these races at time to win the race. We've been the fastest car on the track at times. But Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are in these cars week in and week out. When the pay window is starting to open up at the end of the race, their car is always right there. That's a skill and a talent. They know how to preserve their cars. They know the strategy and the pit stops. The more we do, the closer we're getting to that. But that's their big advantage."
Q: ON STARTING DEAD LAST YEAR BUT FINISHING SECOND
FELLOWS: "There are probably 10 to 12 guys who are relatively easy to get by coming from the back last year, but it gets more difficult every year. It just gets more competitive and not just in terms of driving talent, but also in the garage area. When you see the level of NEXTEL Cup, and the number of teams that are capable of winning now compared to five or six years ago, it just makes it that much tougher. The advantage that I feel like we have is that when you get into the race and you're used to the footwork that's involved and can be a little bit more consistent, chances are that you're going to minimize your mistakes. If we mess up, it's six or eight inches off the apex as opposed to three feet, hopefully. And again, that's because we're road racing all the time."
Q: ON RINGO STARR'S HAIR COMPARED TO BORIS SAID'S HAIR
SAID: "Oh, I'm a trendsetter. It's coming back -- the Afro. I have my bell-bottoms at home; I just haven't brought them out yet. Funny you should say that. Last week, I stayed at the Speedway Hotel in Indianapolis. I thought it was pretty cool to stay where all those famous people have stayed. The lady at the front desk was an older woman and she asked me if it was my first time there and I said yes. She said a lot of famous people have stayed in your room. And I asked, 'Who?' I thought she was going to say Johnny Rutherford or somebody but she said, 'The Beatles'. I said, 'Really? And did you change the carpet and the sheets?'"
Q: WHAT HAS IT MEANT TO YOU TO HAVE THE DOOR TO NEXTEL CUP OPENED TO YOU AND TO RUN IN RACES LIKE THE DAYTONA 500 AND THE BRICKYARD 400?
SAID: "Oh, it has meant a lot. It just feels like the 17 years I've been racing is worth something. I never thought in my wildest dreams that me and Ron (Fellows) were racing showroom stock cars 100 years ago that I would ever get to that level. The Daytona 500 was cool. But running around before the Brickyard last weekend in the back of that Chevy SSR during driver intros) and seeing those people was like being at the top of the racing deal. You can't get any better than that.
"Now I'm there. If I can just learn how to win and run in the top 10 would be the next hardest thing for me to do. But it's pretty cool. It really feels like I've really accomplished something and all of the hard work is starting to pay off."
Q: HOW CRAZY IS TURN ONE GOING TO GET NOW?
SAID: "Not as crazy as the chicane and the inner loop. I think people are going to be a lot braver and you can take a lot more risk without getting into a lot of trouble. I think it's going to make for a good show."