Road racer shocks field
Published: Saturday, July 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
DAYTONA BEACH - Boris Said can master a superspeedway as well.
The road-racing specialist was the surprising Pepsi 400 pole-winner Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, posting a lap at 186.143 mph. It was the second pole of his career; the other was at Infineon Raceway's road course in 2003.
Driving in the second of four scheduled races for the newly formed No Fear Racing team, the team receives technical support, engines and Ford Fusion bodies from Roush Racing. Said credited all the help for his strong run.
"The only thing I did that was really smart was a few months ago go talk to Jack Roush," he said. "As far as me driving one qualifying lap, NASCAR can put a monkey in to fly a rocket, so even I can drive this car one lap around here."
Tony Stewart, the defending race winner, qualified second and will start right next to Said on the front row. The two tangled during last week's road course race in Sonoma, Calif., - Stewart even made an obscene gesture at Said - and the drivers were critical of each other after the race.
"Maybe we'll start bumping each other on the pace lap," Said joked. "We're good. We made up. It was all good fun, I don't mind a little bumping and banging, but it hurt both our chances."
Stewart, who led all but nine laps to win this race last year, was racing in Friday night's Busch Series race and not immediately available for comment.
David Stremme, a rookie who is having a rough first season, qualified third. He was replaced in the No. 40 Dodge last week for road racer Scott Pruett to ensure the car would make the field.
"I was probably a little upset that I was out last week, but on the other hand, our team put ourselves in that hole," he said. "But I really think our team has kind of turned our program around and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Jeff Gordon, a three-time winner of this race, qualified fourth and was followed by Joe Nemechek, rookie Denny Hamlin, Dale Jarrett, and rookie Martin Truex Jr.
Jimmie Johnson, winner of the Daytona 500 and April's race at Talladega, will go for his third restrictor-plate race win this season from the ninth position. Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 10.
Said was the surprise of qualifying, doing it in a brand new race team that debuted last week in Sonoma. No Fear Racing has veteran crew chief Frank Stoddard running the team, is headquartered adjacent to Roush's shop and has SoBe No Fear, an energy drink, as its sponsor.
Said will drive the car in August in Indianapolis and at the road course at Watkins Glen. But Said is eager to prove he can race on all forms of tracks, and is not limited to the twists and right-hand turns of a road course.
"I've been trying to do this for so long - break into NASCAR from road racing," he said. "I was getting a lot of, 'You're too old, you're too tall, you're too old, a lot of those things.' I don't feel like it had a lot to do with driving on the pole today, but it had to do with putting a deal together with Jack Roush three months ago, making a deal to buy cars from him and engines.
"It's like the American Express commercial. Jack said cars: $150,000. Motors: $75,000. But the fact that he offered his me his little black book with all the setups in it: That's priceless."
Said, who has the respect of most drivers in the garage, isn't expecting a free ride once the race begins tonight.
"I'll be a little nervous tomorrow for the race, starting in front of all those guys," he said. "I'm sure they're going to put me through the school of hard knocks and drop me to the back. But I'm prepared for that."
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