MOORESVILLE, NC - Just two weeks after DEI's Ty Norris and driver Steve Park adamantly denied that Park's seat in the No. 1 DEI Chevy was in jeopardy, DEI has released Park from his contract. At Fontana two weeks ago, where Park garnered his...
MOORESVILLE, NC - Just two weeks after DEI's Ty Norris and driver Steve Park adamantly denied that Park's seat in the No. 1 DEI Chevy was in jeopardy, DEI has released Park from his contract.
At Fontana two weeks ago, where Park garnered his first pole since 2000, Park had harsh words for the media and their speculation that DEI would soon fire him.
"I'm going to put it in their face and show it to them that not only were they wrong, but if they expect Steve Park to be polite to them and honor their wishes now that things are going good, that is not going to happen."
Park, however, did not even complete one lap at California before clipping Ryan Newman and sending both cars to the garage. The song did not change at Richmond, when Park also wrecked early and finished a dismal 43rd.
In a statement released by DEI, Teresa Earnhardt confirmed that Park had been released from his commitments with the Pennzoil team. She also expressed her sadness over Park's release.
"Steve was instrumental in DEI's first NASCAR Winston Cup program," Teresa Earnhardt said. "Our loyalty to each other was hard to overcome, however the time came where we simply had to make a change.
"We wish Steve the best in future endeavors."
Earnhardt went on to confirm that Jeff Green, released yesterday from RCR, would take over the No. 1 Chevy beginning with The Winston Open in two weeks.
"We've had some bright spots with Steve and the Pennzoil team, but our loyalty to each other was to hard to overcome, however we are not where we need or expect to be at this point. We feel Jeff can bring a fresh perspective to this team; he's worked with our teams in the past and knows that we're dedicated to winning. I'm optimistic about the rest of the season," stated Teresa Earnhardt.
Green drove in the Busch Series for DEI in 1995 and 1996, garnering 25 top-ten finishes. He left the organization in 1997, but went on to score the 2000 Busch Series championship.
"It's amazing how much can change in 48 hours," Green stated. "DEI is a great organization, I was here when they first started to grow and to come back now and see what they've accomplished is tremendous. I'm looking forward to the opportunity that Teresa has given me and hope to bring some positive results to this team."
Park, the 1997 Busch Series Rookie of the Year, began his Winston Cup career in 1998 and had scored two career point wins at Watkins-Glen and Rockingham. Park also won The Winston Open, a non-point event in 2000. Injuries, however, have plagued Park throughout his career in the No. 1 Chevy.
In 1998, Park had to overcome a broken right femur, left collarbone, and right shoulder blade sustained at a March 6th accident at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Park missed 15 races that season.
Things looked bright for Park until a near-fatal head injury suffered in a 2001 Darlington Busch race forced him to sit out the rest of the season, and the first four events of 2002.
Park's spotty record since his return has spurred much conversation about whether or not Park was fit to drive. Of the eleven events completed this season, Park has only one top-ten, three top-twenties, and seven finishes of 21st or worse.
Steve Park could not be reached for comment.