Park tests at Darlington on Monday DARLINGTON, S.C. (Aug. 3, 1998) Just two days after making his return to NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing in the Brickyard 400, Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Steve Park was back behind the wheel...
Park tests at Darlington on Monday
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Aug. 3, 1998) Just two days after making his return to NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing in the Brickyard 400, Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Steve Park was back behind the wheel Monday, this time testing at NASCAR's original superspeedway -- Darlington Raceway -- in preparation for the Sept. 6 Pepsi Southern 500.
"I'm just glad to be here," said Park, who will make his initial start in the Labor Day weekend classic. "I feel great. If I can handle running here, I can run anywhere. It's such a challenging place and that's why I like it so much."
Prior to last Saturday's 400-miler at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Park had missed 14 races (including Darlington's spring race -- the TranSouth Financial 400) after suffering a broken right femur, left collarbone and right shoulder blade during an accident at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 6. He ran as high as fifth at Indy, but a late-race crash left him with a 35th-place result.
Park, who drives for nine-time Darlington winner Dale Earnhardt, has competed at Darlington twice in his career, both in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division. Practicing the NASCAR Winston Cup Series car is a whole new ball game for the Islip, N.Y., native.
"I'm having to change my driving style here because the Winston Cup car carries so much more speed down the straightaways and in the corners," said Park, who finished fifth in last year's Dura-Lube 200 Presented By Bi-Lo. "That's why we are testing here today and Tuesday. I'm having a problem getting the car to turn in the corner without the back end coming around. It's giving me a fit right now."
Park's best lap Monday was 165.020 mph, short of last year's Bud Pole Qualifying speed of 170.661 mph, set by Bobby Labonte.
Earnhardt will have a little more on the line during the Pepsi Southern 500. He's one of five drivers with a chance for the $1 million "Winston No Bull 5" bonus. He'll be joined by Mark Martin, Labonte, Mike Skinner and Jeff Gordon, who is not only going for four straight in the classic race, but also his second consecutive million-dollar payoff after he claimed the bonus in the Brickyard 400.
A limited number of Southern 500 tickets remain, and the raceway ticket office is open now seven days a week. Call (843) 395-8499 for information or to order tickets.
Source: NASCAR Online