Drive He Said

Boris Said is hoping another strong performance on a Winston Cup road course will get him closer to reaching his ultimate goal of becoming a full-time driver on NASCAR's elite circuit.

The 40-year-old road racing specialist will have that opportunity this weekend at Watkins Glen as the hired gun driver for the MB2 Motorsports entry -- the No. 01 USG Sheetrock Brand Pontiac.

Said is coming off an impressive performance at the previous Winston Cup road race in June at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Driving the MB2 01 Pontiac, Said set a track record to claim the pole and then went on to finish sixth in the main event. It was his best starting and finishing result as a Winston Cup racer.

"Winning the pole at Infineon was one of the the greatest thrills of my career," offered Said, who has competed in seven Winston Cup races. "We had a shot at contending for the race victory, but an untimely caution hurt our chances. Hopefully, we'll give our sponsors - USG Sheetrock Brand and the U.S. Army - even more success at The Glen."

Said has a special fondness for the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course. It was the site of his first Winston Cup start (1999, started second) and his best finish (8th, 2001) prior to this year's race in Sonoma.

"Watkins Glen has always been one of my favorite tracks," explained Said, who drives a BMW M3 in the SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT Championship. "But it's even more special now because you're racing in Winston Cup.

"Right now, Winston 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 that I'm working to be full time in 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."

Said, the 2002 SCCA Trans-AM champion, says he is comfortable inside the Winston Cup garage and doesn't feel any resentment due to his hired gun status.

"I think I am well received in the (Winston Cup) garage," commented Said, who sports a distinctive bushy-hair Afro. "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."

Said, a resident of Carlsbad, Calif., also has a special working relationship with the MB2 team. The Watkins Glen event will be the sixth straight Winston Cup road race that he will team with crew chief Ryan Pemberton.

"Ryan and I have known each other for a long time," said Said. "To me, we're like a full-time team. We had a lot of chemistry at Infineon. It seemed like we'd been together all year and it was our first time this season. I just seem to mesh really well with the MB2 bunch. We're more than just working guys; we're all friends. It makes a difference."

Pemberton has nothing but praise for Said, who is filling in for the recovering Jerry Nadeau.

"First of all Boris is a great guy," said Pemberton. "It sure helps that you appreciate and really like the person 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.

"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 thing 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 rpms when he comes off the corners - exactly what the rpm was - things that most drivers can't do. Boris can tell you everything that's going on in there. Those details really set him apart."

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