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Boris Says: Cup Drivers Now Road Savvy

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 7 2009
It's not just racing fans who love Boris Said. Other drivers whom he has help with the road work homework also appreciate the guy.

It's not just racing fans who love Boris Said. Other drivers whom he has help with the road work homework also appreciate the guy.

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Watkins Glen, N.Y. – When it comes to turning left and right, road racing ace Boris Said believes there’s no comparison between today’s Sprint Cup competitors and the drivers that competed in NASCAR’s premier series just over a decade ago.

“It’s night and day,” the 46-year old Said said. “Ten years ago, I remember when I substituted for Jimmy Spencer and I had to come from the back after we did a driver change. It seemed easy to pass those guys.

“But to get into the Chase [today], they can’t afford to give up those points. So they’ve all worked at it. I’ve always said these guys are the best drivers in the business in racing.  But road racing is really just a different discipline.”

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, NASCAR road course racing was largely dominated by less than a half-dozen drivers. That’s not the case today.

Several prominent Cup drivers have been willing to draw from Said’s immense knowledge of tracks which require turning downshifting, braking and turning right.

“A lot of these guys, like Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne and other guys I’ve worked with, were terrible when they started,” said Said, who will pull double-duty this weekend by competing in Saturday’s Zippo 200 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sunday’s Sprint Cup Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.

“But then after the tests they are faster than I am. It’s like showing a duck water. Once you give them a few things that are different and how to do it they stick to it and work at it.

“I [remember] the feel of the old days you said ‘alright, it’s going to be Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace or Ricky Rudd.’ You could count on that. Now there are 15 to 20 guys that can win a race here, easy.”

Retired driver Ernie Irvan was considered an excellent road course racer in his prime. The former Daytona 500 champion was even able to give a tip or two in the past to Said on how to navigate a road course.

“Ernie Irvan was really good at teaching me that you’ve got to race the checkered flag,” Said said. “You’ve got to be there at the end and you’ve got to leave that little extra wiggle room and be nice to your brakes and nice to your transmission.

“The biggest key to (Watkins Glen) for success, other than staying on the road, is brakes. It really pays big dividends on brakes. We’ve been working really hard with Performance Friction. They have a good package this weekend and I feel pretty comfortable about it. You just have to have a game plan to get to the end.”

The weekend forecast is favorable for good weather with a slight chance of rain. If moisture falls on the 2.45-mile course on Saturday, the Nationwide Series teams will bolt rain tires on their cars. The Sprint Cup Series isn’t prepared to race in the rain.

Said will be prepared should rain clouds form over the track on Saturday.

“When you can see and it’s just a little bit of rain, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The rain just makes that a lot harder because it’s really slippery. I kind of hope for a dry race just for the fans.

“But if it’s rains, it’s going to be a riot out there. Montreal, I thought, last year was a great race. And the Goodyear rain tires they had there were like eight years old.

“So I think now they’ve made news ones, so they’ll probably be a lot more grip and a lot better racing. And I think this track just lends itself to great racing with a lot of passing zones.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 7 2009
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