BY: MITCHELL BREUER
For the first time since 2017, Boris Said will be racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, making his return at the Circuit of Americas driving the No. 66 for MBM Motorsports.
Despite “retiring” from NASCAR’s top level of competition in 2017, the 58-year-old jumped at the chance to come back when offered an opportunity by longtime friend, Carl Long, citing the Next-Gen as one of his biggest reasons for wanting to come back.
“I was really curious on trying it,” Said told News From The Pits. “So, when he offered me the chance to race it, I’m like, “Yeah.” I jumped at the chance. Really excited about it. I mean, I know I am a total long shot and I have not ever even sat in one of these cars yet. It will be interesting that I will not really know it all.”
While this Sunday might be his first race in the latest version of a stock car, Said is one of only a few drivers that has a lot of experience in many different variations of NASCAR cars.
“I think that’s pretty cool,” Said said. “I mean, I remember my first race at Watkins Glen in 1998. Just thinking, “Wow, there’s only 43 drivers that get to do this in the world.” I felt lucky and I felt like that in all the NASCAR races I did. Because it is the best racing in the world and some of the best racers in the world.”
This Sunday will also mark the first race for MBM Motorsports with the Next-Gen, but they will not have to worry about having to qualify on time during Saturday’s qualifying session. Something that has plagued both in recent memory, with Said failing to make the field in his NASCAR Xfinity Series attempt last year at Road America, and MBM falling short in their first attempt earlier this season at the Daytona 500.
“I have never really had that before, to be honest with you,” Said said. “I have always gone in there as a go-or-go-homer with a lot of pressure. I mean, but I like it. I mean, it just makes you really focus and try hard, but yeah, I mean, it is nice. But I remember the days when there would be 10 or 15 cars that would miss the race. Just all the pressure trying to get that lap in. But, yeah, that takes a lot of the pressure away.”
However, Said says this will not change the team’s mindset during Saturday’s practice and qualifying session, as they still have a lot to learn compared to their competition, most of whom were able to get a road course test in with the Next-Gen car at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
“They kind of know where they need to be with the car and they know what to expect,” Said said. “I am hoping that we have a decent setup and that, even if it takes me longer than the six or eight laps, we are going to get to practice. It is a stage race thing now, so that first 15 laps I can use as practice and knowing that the caution’s coming. That is another reason, but I hope I can come to grips with the car and I feel comfortable with it. I can still hopefully get to stay in the top-20.”
A top-20 is the goal for the team, with Said saying an effort like that would legitimize their effort.
“It would say that they are a good team,” Said said. “If they could get some sponsorship and put some more money in their bank there, with more sponsorship, they’d be able to compete with the other teams.” I mean, certainly, they have the experience, they have good people working for them, but it is hard to do stuff when you do not have the fuel in the tank.”