CONCORD, N.C. – A conversation that began with a request for a engine turned to Christmas and concluded with Boris Said securing a start in the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Team owner Rick Hendrick turned down the request with a different idea in mind. That idea will see Said drive the No. 17 in Saturday's Xfinity race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
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"'Do you like Christmas?'" Said recalled Hendrick saying. "I go, 'I love Christmas.' He goes 'what about if I gave you an early Christmas gift? How about you just drive my (No.) 17 car and we don’t have to mess around with giving anyone a motor?’
"I’m 61 years old. I shouldn’t be getting this opportunity to do this with this team. I’ve raced for 37 years and I’ve never had a ride like this. This is just going to be fun for me."
Said and Hendrick have been business partners for the last 12 years on two car dealerships. The veteran driver considers the NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner to be a mentor.
"I talk to him every week on the phone," Said disclosed of his relationship with Hendrick. "He’s been a good friend. To finally get to do a race with him, if I got lucky enough to win, I would for sure mic drop it and that would be it. I’d never do it again."
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Said’s passion for racing is evident as he discusses any aspect of it. He travels with his son, Boris Said Jr., when he races in the Trans Am Series. Boris still makes a handful of Trans Am starts each year.
Said has a very decorated road course racing resume. He is a former sports car series champion (2004) with victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona (1997 and 1998) and the 12 Hours of Sebring (1998). In 2005, he became the first American to win the prestigious 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Said has 29 starts in the Xfinity Series, with one win coming in 2010 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. He also won a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race in 1998 at Sonoma Raceway. Known as a road-course specialist throughout his 149 national series starts, he last made a NASCAR start in 2022 at Circuit of The Americas.
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Despite all those starts, he has yet to run at the 2.32-mile Charlotte ROVAL. While he already mentioned that he would be thrilled to finish on a winning note, what would be an ideal result for the California native?
"It’s crazy because I’ve raced at almost every track all over the world and every track in America, but this one," Said mentioned. "This is the first time I really don’t know. I know I’m getting in the best car I have ever gotten into, but I’ve just been off the couch and I’ve never raced the track. My goal is I hope I can get in the top 10. If I finish on the lead lap, I’ll be the oldest lead-lap driver ever in NASCAR. Right now, I am second-oldest driver. That is my first goal. As we go in the race, I can run in the top 10, then maybe I can find a way to run in the top five.
"There’s another double-edge sword. I need to respect the guys running for a championship and I don’t want to mess up any of that. I’ll be a lot less careful if I can get closer to the front. I’d wreck any of them for a win no doubt. There’s probably a reason 61-year-old’s aren’t driving, but inside I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 30 years old. I hope I go there and I am competitive like I always have been."
The No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevy Xfinity entry has made five starts this season, with the organization’s Cup Series drivers – Alex Bowman, William Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson – each taking turns behind the wheel. In those starts, the group has tallied three top-five finishes, four top-10s and one pole position. Greg Ives will be atop the box as the crew chief. Rajah Caruth will drive the No. 17 in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 4. In its history, Hendrick Motorsports has earned one Xfinity Series championship (2003) and 26 race wins.
Tune in to watch Said compete in the Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte ROVAL on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, NBC Sports App, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).