Short Trackers Show Well at Bobsled Challenge
Boris Said Wins, But Miller, Lia and Logano All Place Strongly
Joey Logano at speed. (NASCAR Photos)
Boris Said has been bobsledding longer than any of the other drivers at the 3rd Annual Chevy Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering, but he’s still learning new tricks. He utilized some of what he picked up Saturday morning to successfully defend his title.
In his second championship run, Said shaved more than 1.5 seconds off his time to beat L.W. Miller and three other finalists. Said’s two runs were 52.12 and 50.53 seconds, for a total time of 1:42.65. Miller, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, posted the fastest first run time at 52.11 and finished second overall at 1:43.37.
Three-time NHRA Powerade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin was third with an overall time of 1:43.99, followed by former NASCAR driver Larry Gunselman at 1:44.90 and 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Donny Lia at 1:45.46.
“I changed my line a little bit,” Said said, “and I made a lot fewer mistakes. Like in racing, I’m always learning – every turn, every lap.”
Each of the 15 NASCAR and NHRA drivers took one championship run. The top five times advanced to take a second championship run, and the finish was decided by the best aggregate time.
“I didn’t expect to win this year,” said Said, who won three of the four races in the first two years. “I thought (NHRA driver) Morgan Lucas would. But he made a mistake and it cost him.”
Lucas was consistently one of the fastest during Thursday and Friday, and was just .23 behind Said in Friday’s qualifying. But a bobble during Saturday’s first championship run left him 11th at 54.21 and out of the hunt. Ron Hornaday, the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, finished sixth with an initial run of 53.06 – just .01 seconds out of qualifying for the second run.
Said got a chance to faceoff against Lucas in the finals of the NASCAR-NHRA Challenge Saturday afternoon. Said recorded a time of 50.99 in the finals to best Lucas’ 52.06.
In the Challenge, five NASCAR drivers (Said, Randy LaJoie, Todd Bodine, Hornaday and Johnny Benson) and NHRA drivers (Phil Burkhart, Lucas, Todd, Bob Vandergriff and Coughlin) competed against each other in elimination rounds, to determine the finalist from the two sides.
Said beat Bodine in the NASCAR finals, while Lucas defeated Coughlin in the NHRA finals.
Many of the drivers like Miller were experiencing bobsledding for the first time this week.
“The first couple practice runs, I learned everything not to do,” said Miller, who was optimistic after running fifth quickest in the final run Friday. He was the sixth sled down the hill in Saturday morning’s first championship run and posted a top time which held up through the remainder of the runs.
“When I got down there, it was the first run since I got here where I felt I did everything right and I just had one bobble,” Miller said. “I knew I had a shot at a podium finish, but I needed Boris to really mess up to have a shot to win it.”
Instead, Said put together a nearly flawless run.
“I wish I knew how I did it, but I’m not the smartest guy in the world,” Said joked. “To me, it’s just a blast. This sport is just so awesome. It’s like when you were a kid on your flexible flyer – times ten.”
A special auction was held Friday night to raise money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and Phil Kurze called it the most successful event to date. Kurze, the vice president of motorsports for Whelen Engineering, is the president of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project.
“It’s grown ever year,” Kurze said. “The main thing is we’re gettting exposure for the sport of bobsledding. What can be better than meeting your goals and having fun doing it?”
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project was the brainchild of former NASCAR driver and 1986 Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine. After watching the 1984 United States Olympic Bobsled team finish well outside of medal contention, Bodine decided to get involved and help bring the sled technology up to par with the world’s top programs.
Bodine proceeded to partner with Chassis Dynamics and Whelen Engineering to build a bobsled for the U.S. athletes. It was an idea that led to the creation of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project that has since put the U.S. Bobsled team back into Olympic medal contention. The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge was started three years ago as an avenue for the project to raise funds, as well as awareness.
New York Army National Guard members served as brakemen on the two-man sleds for the entire weekend. They were also responsible for the loading, unloading and maintenance of the sleds.
The Bodine Bobsled Challenge will be aired on SPEED Jan. 20 and 27. Fans can go to www.bodynbobsled.com to learn more about the project and make contributions.