LAKE PLACID, N.Y.- Boris Said dominated the Chevy Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, presented by Whelen Engineering, by winning both races today at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y. Said, NASCAR Nextel Cup driver and three-race Bodine Challenge winner, immediately removed his helmet after finishing his first run of the competition to thank the U.S. bobsled team."These athletes are amazing, and I'm hoping to raise awareness for the U.S. Bobsled Team,"Boris said. The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge began three years ago to raise money to assist with research and development for the U.S. Bobsled Team."A few years ago we were ready to throw in the towel because we had no money,"Bob Cuneo said."We had finally gotten to where our technology was working, but we were running out of steam. John Morgan came up with the idea for this event to raise awareness for our teams to raise money to continue research and development."Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine became interested in helping the U.S. Bobsled Team after watching the 1992 Winter Olympics, where American athletes competed in foreign made sleds. Dedicated to building Made in America sleds with NASCAR technology, Bodine teamed with Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics to build the most technologically advanced sleds in the world. Bodine and Cuneo founded the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., which has since resulted in four Olympic medals, including one gold in women's bobsled at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, 17 World Cup medals in the 2006-07 season, and two overall World Cup titles. The first race in today's event was a competition between all competitors. Said dominated the competition, winning by 0.72 seconds after runs of 52.12 and 50.53 for a combined time of 1:42.65. L.W. Miller, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion, finished second with a total time of 1:43.37. Miller had the fastest run of the first heat, a 52.11, but had difficulty exiting corner 18 in the second run, finishing in 51.26 seconds for a silver medal."We walked down the track on the first day and I said, 'Boy, this is pretty wicked,"Miller said."Once we started to drive, it was more than I expected, and took me a few runs to get used to it. It was so much fun, and I never expected to finish second."Three-time POWERade Pro Stock Champion Jeg Coughlin, Jr., who also set an NHRA record by winning national events in four separate classes, took the bronze after runs of 52.21 and 51.78 for a combined time of 1:43.99."We go from zero to 200 mph in six seconds,"Coughlin said."Looking at the hill here and being gravity fed down a pipe with these sleds was something I wasn't real sure about. The closest thing I've done to that is drive my little red wagon as a kid down the hill with no brakes."An entertained crowd laughed as Coughlin paused before grinning widely and saying,"Driving a bobsled is an awesome sensation. To be able to support the U.S. Bobsled Team is exciting for us drivers and for the racing community. In preparation for the second race of the event, which would pit NASCAR drivers against NHRA drivers in a bracket format race, Said fueled the friendly fire."These drag racing guys must be getting tired after five or six seconds, because they're not used to driving for so long,"Boris said."But they do go 300 mph, so maybe it feels slow to them. Or is it that they're driving slow'"The drivers battled it out in their respective divisions. Morgan Lucas, top Fuel driver and Bodine Bobsled silver medalist from 2007, won the NHRA race off, and stood nervously at the finish as Said battled the top NASCAR spot with Todd Bodine, 2006 Craftsman Truck Series Champion."God help me if Boris qualifies for finals,"Lucas said."That guy is an animal!"Lucas let out a scream as Said crossed the finish line, crushing Bodine's qualifying time by 0.65 seconds. In the final round, Said dominated the competition and the day's events with a time of 50.99, beating Lucas by over one second. Despite losing to Said, Lucas was grateful for the opportunity."I try to learn from Boris,"Lucas said."I grew up watching him race, and saw how good he was. I thought it was awesome, and I started to watch more races. I told my parents that when I grow up, I want to be like him. So being able to compete in an event like this against Boris is a lot of fun, and it's such a privilege to be involved in something that's helping the U.S. Bobsled Team."The first competition of the event will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Jan. 20 from 12-2 pm, while the second race will air on Jan. 27 from 2-4 pm. In between races today, Todd Bodine gained the courage to drive a skeleton sled from the mid point on the track. The crowd watched, pointed and excitedly"oohed"and"ahhed"as Bodine bounced down the track."I didn't know I could get that sideways,"Bodine said when he finished his run."I thought, 'Oh boy, this is going a lot faster than I thought. It was great fun. I'm very proud to now be a part of the Todd Bodine Skeleton Project, so that we can build our athletes some great new sleds. It's official."The U.S. Skeleton Team claimed both the men's and women's World Cup titles last season, as well as the women's World Championship title."We have someone, Bob White, who is already doing some research and development for skeleton, and he just needs a push,"Cuneo said."Todd has volunteered to give him that push, so it's just a matter of time before that comes together."The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Team has already claimed six gold, four silver and three bronze medals this season. Check out the 2007-08 World Cup action LIVE and On-Demand on NBCOlympics.com, presented by Media Zone. Results
Race #1: 1. Boris Said 1:42.65 (52.12, 50.53); 2. L.W. Miller 1:43.37 (52.11, 51.26); 3. Jeg Coughlin 1:43.99 (52.21, 51.78); 4. Larry Gunselman 1:44.90 (52.99, 51.91); 5. Donny Lia 1:45.46 (53.01, 52.45); 6. Ron Hornaday Jr. (53.06, DNS) ; 7. Todd Bodine (53.61, DNS); 8. Joey Logano (53.65, DNS); 9. Bob Vandergriff (53.74, DNS); 10. Steve Carlson (53.90, DNS); 11. J.R. Todd (53.94, DNS); 12. Morgan Lucas (54.21, DNS); 13. Phil Burkart Jr. (54.29, DNS) ; 14. Randy La Joie (55.39, DNS); 15. Johnny Benson (55.54, DNS); About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation'
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: Allianz Life, Columbia Sportswear Company, Speedo, CW-X, KBC Helmets, ULU Boots, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Lumber Liquidators and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.