Steve Park ...
#1 Pennzoil Chevrolet
Mountain Dew Southern 500
Notes: Ø Posting his fifth top-10 finish in the past six races after finishing seventh at Bristol last weekend, Steve Park in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo seeks revenge at Darlington Raceway as he starts in his 115th Winston Cup race this weekend. The Mountain Dew Southern 500 is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon, Sept. 2; shown live on TNT beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.
Ø Earlier this season, Pennzoil driver Steve Park appeared to be on his way to his second victory of the season, that was until the caution flag came out for debris with 18 laps remaining. Having a 2-second advantage over the field with less than 20 laps to go, Park saw the yellow flag drop and headed into the pits with the lead, but returned to the track just behind eventual race winner Dale Jarrett in spite of a good stop by the Pennzoil team. Several laps later, with the field tightened back up, another caution flag came out when the #31 and #5 crashed, putting out the red flag with only 10 laps remaining. When the field returned to green flag racing with seven circuits left, Jarrett took off with Park in hot pursuit. Better on the long runs though, Park wasn't able to close the gap between the two and, after leading the most laps throughout the 293-lap event, finished in the second spot.
Ø Last fall, Park started the Southern classic in the 39th spot after motor problems forced him to take a provisional. After becoming involved in an incident on lap 6, Park brought the Pennzoil Chevrolet onto pit road to repair some right front damage. That wouldn't deter the team though, and Park brought the yellow car back through the field to run in the top 15 most of the day. When the final caution of the day came out at lap 321, the Pennzoil team put Park out in the 10th spot after the pit stop before a downpour and nightfall put an end to the event.
Ø After a couple of bad marks mid-season, the Pennzoil team is back on schedule for their late season rally as they have an average finish of 8.67 in the last six events. After finishing 41st at Chicago on July 15, Park has completed all 1,412 laps raced and moved from 13th to 10th in the points standings. August was not only his birthday month, but a month where the 34-year-old posted four consecutive top-10 finishes.
"I am really proud how we have turned this season around again," said Park, who has led 508 laps this season. "Not to rehash on the bump rubbers, but that really threw us a loop. I had complete confidence, though, in Paul (Andrews) and Dave (Charpentier) to turn this thing around and get us producing top-10 finishes again.
"Darlington is such a rhythm track," said Park, who will also run in the Busch race this weekend in Darlington. "Once you find a groove that works for you, and as long as you can stay off the walls, which everyone knows isn 't always easy to do, we can get that victory that eluded us in the spring. That was real disappointing to lead that many laps and then not get the victory. Just makes you try that much harder the next time."
"The Goodyear tire at Darlington, while better than previous years, still took beating in the spring with the track compound containing so much sand and grit," said Paul Andrews, crew chief of the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet. "With green flag conditions, you've got 70 laps on those tires and that asphalt at Darlington just loves to chew them up so being smooth is very important. We'll set up the Pennzoil Chevrolet more for the long runs since the new tires don't stay fresh for very many circuits."