JOLIET, Ill. -- With both NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch teams heading to the Midwest for inaugural events at Chicagoland Speedway, Pennzoil driver Steve Park busies himself as he's schedule to compete in both series this weekend, gaining experience...
JOLIET, Ill. -- With both NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch teams heading to the Midwest for inaugural events at Chicagoland Speedway, Pennzoil driver Steve Park busies himself as he's schedule to compete in both series this weekend, gaining experience from the Busch race to use on Sunday during the Tropicana 400; shown live on NBC beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Just recently named as one of People Magazine's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors, Park also graces the pages of Esquire Magazine's August Issue along with fellow Winston Cup competitors Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart. So while he's been busy adorning pages of national magazines lately, it won' t quite compare to the tight schedule this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Teams and drivers get into town on Wednesday with an extra practice day putting Park on the track all day Thursday and then Friday isn' t any easier with qualifying scheduled for both series.
As one of the few drivers that has run on the 1.5-mile D-shaped tri-oval, Park tested his Busch car last month under the guidance of the Pennzoil crew chief Paul Andrews and engineer Dave Charpentier. While the day didn't end as expected with a blown motor and into the wall, the trio gained invaluable knowledge to help them prepare for the 267-lap event.
"The layout is like Texas but it drives more like Vegas," said Park, who is currently 11th in the points standings. "It's fast with lots of grip but the corners are flat. The configuration of the track promotes passing with its sweeping corners. It should make for a pretty good race. Am glad though that I'm competing in both events so I can gain extra seat time, that's definitely one of the benefits of racing twice on the same weekend. It obviously helped in Dover when we finished second in the Winston Cup race after were fifth in the Busch event."
"It's always a benefit to us when Steve can gain experience on the track," added Andrews. "Everyone will be on an even playing field though since no one has first hand race knowledge at Chicagoland. We enjoy a challenge and getting to race at a new facility is something welcomed. It makes you think a little more but that is how you gain an edge on the competition."
As Park tested the Busch car, the Pennzoil crew remained in Charlotte working on the #1 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. With the busy schedule ahead -- 20 consecutive races, the team prepared the DEI arsenal of cars to help ease the heavy workload.
"We're trying not to overwork the guys in the coming months," said Andrews. "Planning ahead made the most sense to ensure time was well utilized in Charlotte. The road crew will have the toughest schedule and we want to make sure they don't get burned out."
So while the Pennzoil team breezes into Chicago ready to race the #1 Monte Carlo, Park will no doubt create a gust of wind as he runs between his duties in the Busch and Winston Cup cars this weekend.