Blog: Said, Ambrose in the spotlight
By Paul Corliss
In NASCAR we become accustomed to hearing the same names week-in and week-out: Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt, Stewart, Busch, etc. This weekend at Watkins Glen, however, we have two non-traditional names sitting atop the “watch list” – Said and Ambrose.
One of two road courses on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit, Watkins Glen often puts different drivers – so-called “road course ringers” – under the spotlight. And perhaps the two best road course specialists on this weekend’s competitor list are Boris Said and Marcos Ambrose.
Said, driving the No. 83 for Red Bull Racing this weekend as a fill-in for Brian Vickers, will be in perhaps the best equipment he’s ever driven for a Sprint Cup event. The 47-year old Said has seven career Sprint Cup top-10 finishes and is expected to make noise this weekend at the Glen in his Red Bull debut.
“I haven't driven (the No. 83) yet, but I know the team and you know it's an A-class team – they were in the Chase last year,” Said said. “I think it's going to be one of the best chances I've ever had, and the best cars.”
Ambrose, meanwhile, looks forward to entering his on-track comfort zone this weekend at Watkins Glen after a difficult last few weeks in which he announced he’ll be leaving JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of the 2010 season. NASCAR’s lone Australian – owner of eight career Sprint Cup top-10s – will look to redeem himself in road course action this weekend after letting an almost-certain trip to Gatorade Victory Lane slip through his fingers with a costly stall-out while in the lead on June 20 at Sonoma.
“Races come and go, and when you give one up like we did at Sonoma – no matter how it went down, no matter what the circumstances – it's never nice,” Ambrose said. “That being said, there's enough pressure to win at Watkins Glen without putting any more on yourself, so I think we are all focused on the job at hand.”
While neither Said nor Ambrose has ever won a Sprint Cup event, both are widely respected – and often sought out by other drivers – for their prowess on road course. Both Said and Ambrose say they’re eager to help other drivers with road courses, even though they’re competing against them.
“I've helped David Reutimann get some two-seater experience and get around some tracks and try to give him some fundamental tips on how to go road racing,” Ambrose said. “Martin Truex has looked at what I'm doing and taken a look at that and will probably take away with him some aspect of what I do. I've got nothing to hide. If anyone wants to come up and ask me a question, I'll be glad it to answer it for them.”
Said echoed Ambrose’s sentiments and has noticed vast improvements on road course driving from several Sprint Cup drivers he’s worked with.
“No. 1 on the list – and I've worked with him two or three times in a two-seater – has got to be Kasey Kahne,” Said said “(Kahne’s) come a long way in road racing. Kevin Harvick, I've worked with him in the past and he's come a long way in road racing. Carl Edwards is another guy I've worked with that's come a long way.”
What makes Said and Ambrose so special on road courses like Watkins Glen and why can’t those skills just transfer easily?
“I think Marcos Ambrose, I would consider him a very aggressive, hard racer,” Said said. “I guess I'd like to consider myself that way, too … aggressive, but fair.”
Said Ambrose: “Road racing and racing in general is a very personal thing, and what works for me doesn't necessarily work for anyone else. You know, I'm just lucky that I've got some ability to get around a road course and know what to look for and have that confidence to really be able to get there.”
Ambrose, Said and all the brightest stars in NASCAR will take to Watkins Glen’s 2.54-mile, 11-turn road course at 10 a.m. Arizona time on Sunday for the HELUVA GOOD! SOUR CREAM DIPS AT THE GLEN. The race will be televised nationally on ESPN.