Said optimistic entering Watkins Glen

Boris Said is returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup arena this weekend, driving the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota at Watkins Glen International.

Said, 47, has been driving a limited schedule in NASCAR for years. One of the last true road-course specialists, he’s tried to get a foothold in the sport and is intent on making the most of this opportunity. Brian Vickers started the season in the car before being sidelined with health issues. Since then, Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson and Mattias Ekstrom have raced in it.

This weekend, it’s Said’s chance.

He’ll log plenty of laps at the road course as he’s competing in the Grand-Am and Nationwide Series races there as well.

But for Said, the impact race could be the Cup event.

As he looks to the race, and the team he’ll be competing with, he sees this as his best chance to win at the Cup level to date.

“It’s still an uphill battle,” he said. “I haven’t been in a car that much this year, and these guys are still the best in the business. Even though people call us road-course ringers, I don’t see where they come up with that name considering the ringers have never won. To be in this Red Bull team — Red Bull ‘gives you wings,’ so hopefully that will help me a lot, and they have a lot of resources, so it’s definitely my best chance in a long time.”

Ironically, many of the drivers that Said will be competing against Sunday are ones that he has helped learn to master this type of track. Said has long been a go-to guy for teams trying to help their drivers adjust to road courses. He says that he has worked with 33 drivers on road courses.

That gives him a good idea of who can be a factor this weekend.

“No. 1 on the list, and I’ve worked with them two or three times in a two-seater, is for sure had got to be Kasey Kahne,” Said said. “He’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, another guy I’ve worked with that’s come a long way. So I think any one of those three guys, you know, could give Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart a run for their money now.”

As a driver who competes on road courses more regularly than the full-time Cup drivers, he’s watched NASCAR adjust and adapt to the annual events at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen.

And, it seems, he’s been impressed by what he’s seen from the full-time Cup contingent. He remembers a moment earlier this year at Infineon when Gordon stunned — and impressed — him dramatically.

“On one of those restarts we went through the esses, and Jeff Gordon was on the outside of me and I thought to myself, ‘Is he nuts? He’s stupid. There’s no way he can do that.’ I kind of gave him a little bit of room because I thought for sure he’s wrecking,” he said. “And I go, ‘He’s either stupid or that good.’ And he was that good. It amazed me like, ‘Wow, how did he do that?’

“That was something I will remember forever in racing.”

Looking down the road, Said not only wants to win on Sunday, but sees the potential for other benefits from his shot with Red Bull. While this may not lead to a Cup opportunity, a good run Sunday could still be beneficial for Said — for reasons beyond personal satisfaction. That’s something he’s already thinking about before he’s even qualified the car.

“Red Bull is a great company,” he said. “They have been racing — they are in a lot of different kinds of racing. They are leading the Formula One championship now.

“And there are no other Cup plans in the future, but I’m hoping that if I do a good number job for Red Bull, then there could be opportunities in other forms of racing that they compete in, and I’m hoping that they will give me wings like they say and I’ll be able to get a good finish.”