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Said, Lepage win in fundraiser for U.S. bobsled teams

1/12/2006

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Boris Said and Kevin Lepage came out with victories, while Dick Trickle added another memorable chapter to his remarkable career.

Said won the first race of the Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge on Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg, Lepage took the second race, and the 64-year-old Trickle got a turn named after him when he flipped his sled on consecutive runs.

The unique event, which pitted 10 NASCAR drivers against each other on ice instead of asphalt, concrete or dirt, was an effort by Bodine to raise funds to keep the U.S. men's and women's bobsled teams at the forefront of international racing.

Judging by the reaction of the drivers and the nice crowd, which was larger than recent World Cup events, it probably won't be the last.

"Everyone is excited about this and wants to come back," Geoff Bodine said. "It makes me feel good. Next year is going to be twice as big, maybe three times as big."

When Lepage jumped from his sled, he hugged brakeman Matt Brice and raised his arms in triumph as though he had just won the Daytona 500 as a fan yelled, "Do a burnout!"

"This is something I can take with me for a long time," said Lepage, who grew up just 90 miles away in Burlington, Vt. "Now I can go back and sell it. It was awesome."

And emotional for Said. His late father, Bob, drove in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics for the U.S. bobsled team, and Boris was reunited this week with 61-year-old Phil "Brown Bear" Duprey, the brakeman for his father.

Said had the fastest time on both heats in the first race and beat Todd Bodine by three-quarters of a second.

"I know nothing about bobsledding, and I've been running pretty good all weekend," Said explained. "Maybe some of it rubbed off, or my dad gave me a little extra push from upstairs. You never know."

Subzero temperatures overnight rendered the track much faster than the previous two days of practice, and Trickle felt the change the most. He and brakeman Kelly Weaver had the fastest time in practice Saturday morning and were a solid second on their first run of the day until things went wrong at the bottom of the track.

"I was going for a new track record and got up a little bit too high," Trickle said. "I'd been holding back a little bit. I think I left too much out there, that's all. You know how it is, you either sit on the pole or you hit the wall. Well, we hit the wall, but it was no rougher than when you just go down, other than you couldn't see where you were going. There's no impact. Piece of cake. The big thing is I didn't get hurt, my brakeman didn't get hurt. It was a lot of fun."

"I was worried he oiled the track up," Said joked. "That was a hell of a run. He'll be back."

He was, and he crashed again at the same place -- curve 18, which was quickly dubbed the "Trickle Turn" after his sled perched high on its right runner and turned over again.

"If I flipped one more time, my new name would have been flipper," Trickle said.

"I told him we would have issues if there was a third," Weaver said.

To make things equal, the drivers changed sleds for the afternoon race. Said lost a chance for a sweep when his brakeman's legs got tangled in his driving ropes and wound up eighth, just ahead of Trickle, who made it down twice just fine.

The second race became a tight affair after Stanton Barrett put down the fastest run of the day, racing almost out of control through the lower portion of the track. He somehow held on to finish in 51.96 seconds, but moments later Lepage made it down just two-hundredths slower and won by a quarter of a second.

"I wanted to win the gold. Dang!" said Barrett, who was third in the morning race with brakeman Matt Spragins. "I had the fastest run, though."

Geoff Bodine was eighth in the first race and fifth in the second despite a start on his final run that hinted at a little foul play because it was by far the fastest of the day. Starts were done by gravity, except for that one.

"We had to do that," Todd Bodine said of the push his brother got at the top.