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Archive for Saturday, July 1, 2006

Said springs Daytona surprise

Road-course specialist wins pole for today’s Nextel Cup Pepsi 400

July 1, 2006

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— 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.

"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 (Mastercard) commercial. Jack said cars: $150,000. Motors: $75,000. But the fact that he offered me his little black book with all the setups in it: That's priceless."

Little E wins Busch race

Daytona Beach, Fla. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to Daytona's Victory Lane for the first time in more than two years, winning the Busch Series race Friday night.

Earnhardt took the lead early and dominated the rest of the way, holding off Brian Vickers after a late restart in the Winn-Dixie 250.

Vickers finished second, followed by series point leader Kevin Harvick, pole-sitter J.J. Yeley and Carl Edwards.

It was Junior's first victory at Daytona since Feb. 16, 2004, when he won the rain-delayed Busch Series event a day after taking the checkered flag in the Daytona 500.

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