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Said wins both races at Bodine Bobsled Challenge

1/5/2008 - NASCAR

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It must be genetic.

Road race expert Boris Said proved to be the master of Mount Van
Hoevenberg again on Saturday, winning both races in the third
annual Bodine Bobsled Challenge.

In the three years this unique event featuring race car drivers
on ice has been run, Said has won five of six races, finishing
second to Kevin Lepage the only time he didn't take the gold.

Said's late father, Bob, drove in the 1968 and 1972 Winter
Olympics for the U.S. bobsled team and was one of the sport's great
promoters in his heyday. Boris just seems to be following in his
dad's footsteps in his own special way.

"I just think it's in my genes," Said said after besting NHRA
Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas in Saturday's second race by more than
a second. "My dad left when I was 6 and I never saw him again, and
I ended up doing the same things he did. I guess it's like when
they breed fast horses. Maybe it's the same thing. I don't know."

Former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine created the Bo-Dyn Bobsled
Project Inc. after watching the U.S. team race in the 1992
Albertville Games in European-built sleds. Bodine wanted to help
make sure U.S. sleds would be made in America, and his efforts have
helped provide sled designs involving NASCAR technology.

Bodine created the Bobsled Challenge, which was first run in
January 2006, to raise money and awareness for the U.S. team, and
Said has been an eager supporter.

"I believe in the cause, and I'm really patriotic," Said said.
"It's just a great cause. To see these young athletes that work so
hard 365 days a year, to see them winning medals is just an awesome
deal, and it goes largely unnoticed by the American public."

In the first race, Said finished 0.01 behind Whelen Southern
Modified Tour champ L.W. Miller on the first of two runs, giving
the 15-sled field a brief glimmer of hope.

"I was getting bummed out," Miller said. "I thought he had
us."

"It ain't over yet," Said said. "It's only half the race."

Prophetic words.

After the first 13 drivers made their second runs over the
tricky 17-curve layout, it became a two-man race for the top spot.
Said went next and nearly lost it in the chicane, a straightaway
that comes up quickly after Curve 14, a hard right-hander that is
the most difficult stretch of the track.

Said's sled skidded almost completely sideways before he managed
to get it pointed straight again, and he somehow managed to turn in
the fastest run of the day by a wide margin. His time of 50.53
seconds was nearly three-quarters of a second faster than Miller's
second run and more than a second faster than third-place finisher,
NHRA pro stock drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr.

The second race was billed as the NASCAR vs. NHRA Challenge,
featuring five drivers from each sport chosen by Geoff Bodine. The
final heat would feature the top NASCAR driver against the top NHRA
driver, with the winner claiming the gold.

Before they even started racing again, though, there was an
element of doom, even as a light snow began falling on the track.

"We ain't going to beat Boris," Craftsman Truck Series champ
Ron Hornaday Jr. said.

Dragger Bob Vandergriff eliminated Coughlin before losing to
Lucas in the NHRA finale. Former Craftsman Truck champ Todd Bodine
bested Hornaday to set up a showdown with Said. Bodine
finished his final run in 51.64 seconds just moments before Said
came down in 51.53 to set up the showdown with Lucas.

"It's Boris. God help me," Lucas said as Said crossed the
finish line. "He's just a natural. His dad raced. The gene pool
was good to him. That guy can race anything."

"I was at least respectable against the master," said Todd
Bodine, who announced Saturday that he was starting a similar event
to help fund U.S. skeleton athletes and actually slid down the
track on a skeleton sled. "Go get Morgan. Make us proud."

Said, who posted the fastest two-run time on Friday to win the
pole, did exactly that. He finished in 50.99 seconds to Lucas's
52.06.

"That was a blowout," said Lucas, also a runner-up to Said
last year. "I shouldn't even have started."

For the second straight year, New York State Army National
Guardsmen served as brakemen, and they were elated.

"It's definitely one of the top-five intense things I've
done," said Adam Barber of Queesnbury, N.Y., who returned from
Iraq just two months ago. "This is pretty crazy stuff."

"It's pretty cool to have these guys riding in back of us,"
added Said. "I don't know if they're smart or stupid."