Watkins Glen: Said, Pemberton, Fellows press conference, part I

NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference GM Racing August 5, 2003 Part 1 of 2 This week's NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference featured Boris Said, driver of the No. 01 USG Sheetrock Brand/MB2 Pontiac and crew chief, Ryan Pemberton. Additionally, Ron ...

NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference
GM Racing
August 5, 2003

Part 1 of 2

This week's NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference featured Boris Said, driver of the No. 01 USG Sheetrock Brand/MB2 Pontiac and crew chief, Ryan Pemberton. Additionally, Ron Fellows, driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was a guest on the call.

Said has competed in eight NASCAR Winston Cup races - three at Watkins Glen. He drove the 01 US Army Pontiac at Infineon Raceway in June, where he sat on the pole and finished sixth, his best career Winston Cup result. His previous best was an eighth place finish at Watkins Glen in 2001. Said, 40, is the reigning SCCA Trans-Am champion and he resides in Carlsbad, Calif. He is a native of Stamford, Conn.

Fellows has made seven NASCAR Winston Cup career starts. Four of those have been at Watkins Glen. His best finish at that track was second in 1999.

In the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Fellows has two wins at Watkins Glen (1997 & '99). With his '97 victory, he became the first Canadian to win a major NASCAR event since Earl Ross in 1974. In the NASCAR Busch Series, Fellows has score three wins (1998, '00, & '01). There again, he became the first non-American to win a Busch Series race. Fellows last competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series at Infineon Raceway in June where he started third and finished seventh.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Fellows is one of the founding drivers in General Motors' Corvette sports car racing program and was responsible for the team's first ALMS victory in September 2000 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Fellows, 43, is recognized as one of North America's best and diverse road racing drivers; he has won races in every level of competition he's raced, from NASCAR to the 24 Hour of Le Mans.

The following are highlights of the Q&A's with the media as Said, Pemberton, and Fellows discussed the 2003 season and the upcoming Sirius at The Glen.

Q&A'S WITH BORIS SAID:

THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME AWAY FROM YOUR GOLF GAME TO JOIN US. FOLLOWING YOUR GREAT WEEKEND AT INFINEON IN JUNE AND YOUR LAST TWO OUTINGS AT THE GLEN, TELL US HOW EXCITED YOU ARE TO BE BACK BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE '01 PONTIAC THIS WEEKEND

"This is a big chance for me. To have a full time team running your deal instead of just a part-time effort like I've had for the past few years is a big difference. Our results showed that at Infineon. Watkins Glen is a track I've always liked. We tested there a few weeks ago and we were running really good. Hopefully Ron (Pemberton) and the boys will have a good weekend."

WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING GOLF, DOES THAT FLUSH YOUR MIND OF THE PERILS OF RACING?

"Golf is just kind of a mental challenge. One second you're great and one second you're not. I'm glad racing isn't like golf. You'd either be getting fired or going to the hospital every other week it's so hot and cold. It's just a neat challenge. And it's probably just as different as you can get from racing."

IS IT DIFFICULT TO COME IN FOR JUST ONE OR TWO RACES AND TRY TO MESH WITH THE TEAM?

"Yes and no. If you were running week in and week out, you'd have much more rapport with your team. But Ryan and I have known each other a long time. To me, we're like a full-time team. We had a lot of chemistry at Infineon. I don't know for what reason. It seemed like we'd been together all year and it was really our first time. I just seem to mesh really good with the MB2 bunch. We're more than just working guys; we're all friends. It makes a difference."

WHAT DOES ROAD RACING AT WATKINS GLEN MEAN TO YOU - ESPECIALLY RACING WITH THE ELITE WINSTON CUP SERIES?

"Watkins Glen has always been one of my favorite tracks, but it's more special just because you're racing in Winston Cup. And for me as a racer who is normally just known as a road racer it's special. Winston Cup right now is the most competitive form of racing in the world. It's a big challenge to be a part of that show. It's something that I'm working to be part of full time next year or the year after. That's my goal right now - to be a Winston Cup driver. I'm going to keep working on it."

DOES THAT PUT EXTRA PRESSURE ON YOU TO DO WELL?

"I don't think so. Racers always have pressure on themselves. It's more self-inducing than anything because my number one fear is failure. I want to do the best job I can every time I'm in the car. I don't think anybody puts more pressure on myself than I do. But of course you want to do well."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE REGULAR WINSTON CUP DRIVERS LOOK AT THE 'HIRED GUNS' THAT COME IN FOR ROAD RACES? HOW DO THEY TREAT YOU IN THE GARAGE AREA?

"The last four years I've probably worked with about 18 of the top guys - trying to help their road race programs whether it's been in car set-up or things a driver does that are different from oval racing. I think I'm well-received in the garage."

OF THE WINSTON CUP REGULARS, WHO ARE THE TOUGHEST GUYS YOU LOOK FOR ON A ROAD COURSE?

"Well, of course Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Those are two of the best. But this year at The Glen, I think you're going to see a much closer field. At the test, Mark Martin was really strong. Dale Jr. was real strong. I think you're going to see a lot of people run at the front that you haven't seen before."

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADJUSTMENTS THE DRIVERS HAVE TO MAKE TO DEAL WITH THE SUMMER HEAT IN THE RACE CARS?

"The biggest thing is that you've got to keep yourself hydrated. A Winston Cup car is a very harsh environment. It can be 150 degrees in the car at Watkins Glen. A road race like Watkins Glen and Infineon are probably the most physical races that a Cup driver has to deal with because you're so busy in the car. You just try to keep a lot of fresh air blowing on you and keep hydrated. That's the worst thing about those cars. If they were air conditioned, they'd be a whole lot better, that's for sure."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO MB2 ABOUT A RIDE IN THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT FOR YOUR POLE AT INFINEON?

"Yeah, that conversation started about 30 seconds after they told me I had the pole. I've been working flat out trying to get a ride on any oval I can. It looks like we're going to try and do the ARCA race at Talladega at the end of the year to try and get a little experience drafting. But I'm pretty confident I'll be at the Bud Shootout."

DID YOUR PERFORMANCE AT INFINEON CAUSE PEOPLE TO THINK OF YOU A LITTLE MORE AS A CUP DRIVER AND NOT JUST A HIRED GUN?

"I hope so. The big problem is that you've still got to go out and prove you can do it on an oval. I think I can, I've just got to convince some team owner to give me a chance on an oval. It definitely doesn't hurt. The performance at Infineon is definitely giving me at least two ovals this year, so I'm hoping I can prove myself there and get a full time deal in Cup."

ARE YOU GETTING A BIGGER RESPONSE WHEN YOU CALL? DO THEY RETURN YOUR CALLS OR JUST WAITING UNTIL ROAD COURSE TIME?

"In the past, it's always been that everybody is my best friend and then once August comes around and Watkins Glen is over, your phone never rings again. And now, I'm getting a lot more positive responses from the people I've been talking to."

IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO FULL TIME IN WINSTON CUP AND JUST DABBLE IN SPORTS CAR RACING, OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND?

"My number one goal right now it to try and get into Winston Cup full time. I'm going to try my hardest to make it happen. But if it doesn't happen, I still have a pretty unique racing career and feel lucky I get to drive all the different cool cars. I'm going to try to make it happen in Winston Cup but if it doesn't, I'm not going to kick myself over it. I'm going to just continue what I'm doing and have a good time racing. That's what I love to do."

DO YOU HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE NOW WITH OVALS?

"Yes, I did the NASCAR Truck Series a few years ago for two years and I didn't understand the cars at that point. And now, I understand what makes these cars work a lot better so I think if I had another chance at ovals, I'd be a lot more prepared. So, yes I definitely have more confidence."

WHAT ARE THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DRIVING A SPORTS CAR AND DRIVING A WINSTON CUP CAR?

"The biggest thing is just the level of competition. In any other road racing series I do, there are five or six guys you're racing against. In Winston Cup, there are 43 guys and they're all competitive. There are just tiny things that separate the winners from the losers. It's just a much more competitive field in Winston Cup."

DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR MINDSET WHEN YOU GET INTO THE WINSTON CUP CAR?

"Completely. At Infineon Raceway, I did all three races: Southwest Tour, Trans-Am, and Winston Cup. When you're going back to back to back in three different cars, it's as different as golf and tennis. You need to remember when you're sitting in that car and know that you're swinging the tennis racquet or swinging the golf club. They're three completely different driving styles."

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT SEPARATES YOU FROM DRIVERS WHO NEVER RISE ABOVE THEIR LOCAL TRACKS?

"I don't know. It's just like there are guys at a local track looking at me and thinking I'm better, I look at Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart or Dale Jr. and wonder what they have that I don't have. If I knew the answer to that question, I would be driving as good as Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart. Normally, what makes a driver good is determination and just a physical and mental ability to keep that car at the very edge. There are some guys who have a special gift."

Q&A'S WITH RYAN PEMBERTON:

WATKINS GLEN WILL BE THE SIXTH STRAIGHT ROAD RACE THAT YOU AND BORIS SAID HAVE TEAMED UP TOGETHER. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE CHEMISTRY THAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK TO BORIS FOR THE ROAD RACES?

"First of all, he's a great guy. We're friends and I think that's a big part of it. In this business, you work real hard and you dedicate your life to it. It sure helps that you really appreciate and really like the person that you're working with and working for. On top of that, he's one of the best road racers in the world. It's a good opportunity for him and we really appreciate him filling in for us this year."

WHAT SETS SAID APART FROM OTHER RACERS WHO ARE TRYING TO GET BETTER AT ROAD RACING OR ANY FORM OF RACING?

"Boris has incredible car control and incredible foot work. If you've ever seen a foot cam or anything like that inside a car, the things that he does with the gas and the clutch and the brake pedal are second to none. You could almost watch the whole in-car camera footage. His awareness of things around him inside the car is incredible. He can tell me different rpm's when he comes off the corners - exactly what the rpm was - things that most drivers can't do. Most drivers couldn't tell you. Boris can tell you everything that's going on in there. Those details really set him apart. He's got the ability to do that."

YOU'RE FROM SARATOGA SPRINGS IN UPSTATE NEW YORK?

"Yes."

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BREAK INTO WINSTON CUP AND NASCAR'S OTHER SERIE, AND WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE INFLUX OF TALENT FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY VS. JUST FROM THE SOUTH?

"Maybe that was a little bit before my time, but it seems like the drivers are from all over the place. Racing has become extremely popular all over the country. There are a lot of little NASCAR-affiliated race tracks all over the country. To work your way up through the ranks - whether you're a crewmember or whatever - is not too hard. But there are limited positions on Winston Cup and Busch Series teams. You've got to work your way up through there. Most everybody in Winston Cup has worked from maybe a touring series or a modified series. The program is working but that's basically the steps you have to take."

Part II

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Boris Said , Ron Fellows , Mark Martin