WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Heading back to his home state of New York this weekend holds a special meaning for the young Steve Park, piloting the ...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Heading back to his home state of New York this weekend holds a special meaning for the young Steve Park, piloting the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet as he defends the first race title in his NASCAR Winston Cup career during the Global Crossing at the Glen this coming Sunday.
"It was just a dream come true and I don't understand why things happen sometimes other than the good Lord looking down on us and blessing us," said Park, who hails from Long Island. "But I couldn't have picked a better place to get my first win than Watkins Glen. Being a New York native, that' s the place I wanted to win.
"What most people don't realize is that Watkins Glen is one of the Winston Cup tracks that I have the most experience on," continued Park, competing in the Northeast early in his racing career. "So as weird or crazy as it seemed to get our first win on a road course, I love road racing. I've been to three different road race schools, and ever since I first drove Watkins Glen, I just feel in love with the track and road racing. So I think as much as a surprise that it comes to some people, with the limited amount of experience I had last year on a lot of tracks that we go to, Watkins Glen and New Hampshire are probably the tracks that I have the most experience on and that really helped getting that first win."
Winning that first victory in just his 77th Winston Cup start, Park has completed all but two laps in his four outings on the 2.45-mile road course and, since that time 34 races ago, the 33-year-old driver continues to make huge strides in his Winston Cup career. This season, Park has already posted one win and three second-place finishes to earn $1 million more than at this time last year and currently sits 11th in the points standings, whereas last year heading into Watkins Glen, he was 17th.
"I think anytime you win it builds momentum in the team and think gives us all the confidence to know that we are capable of winning," added Park, who starts in his 112th Winston Cup event this weekend. "After that point, I told the guys that we were no longer going to the track as competitors but winners. It gives everybody the added confidence when we go to the track each weekend to know that we are capable of winning."
Not intimidated by the road course "experts" who typically attempt to qualify for these type of races, Park will prepare for the Glen in the same fashion he does each race.
"We'll approach Watkins Glen like we do every week," continued Park, who is now 11th in the points standings. "We'll prepare to the best of our abilities and test as much as we can. If you look at past races with all the road course experts, it still seems like it's a Winston Cup regular to that has the opportunity to run up front and win at the end of the Glen. I think every week is a daunting task and we're just going to approach it like we do every week, just prepare to the best of our ability and drive our heart out."
The 90-lap event is scheduled to get underway on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. EDT with Park fighting off the other Winston Cup drivers to defend his title and put the Pennzoil Chevrolet back into victory lane.