Steve Park to Carry Sponsorâ€™s Colors In Pennzoil 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway HOMESTEAD, Fla. (June 23, 1999) â€“ When NASCAR Winston Cup racing comes to South Florida for the first time, Steve Park will find himself in the spotlight when...
Steve Park to Carry Sponsor’s Colors In Pennzoil 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (June 23, 1999) – When NASCAR Winston Cup racing comes to South Florida for the first time, Steve Park will find himself in the spotlight when he drives the Pennzoil Chevrolet in the inaugural Pennzoil 400 Nov. 14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The event ticket, program cover and advertising theme all feature the bright yellow No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet owned by Dale Earnhardt and driven by Park, who is in his first full season of NASCAR Winston Cup competition.
The personable 31-year-old Long Island, N.Y., native is up to the challenge. He has found success in his only race on the 1.5-mile oval, qualifying second and finishing 12th in the 1997 Jiffy Lube Miami 300 NASCAR Busch Series race. On the down side, he crashed last fall in a test session.
"The race track is one of the most challenging I have ever raced on," Park explained. "I think I've experienced every emotion there. I almost won the pole there in the 1997 NASCAR Busch race -- qualifying second. But then last year I hit the wall pretty hard while testing Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR Winston Cup car. That hurt!
"You have to be about perfect to get a good lap at Miami, and that's the kind of challenge every driver likes."
Emerging as a solid contender in NASCAR Winston Cup competition, Park dominated the early action in the recent event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. While a brief meeting with the turn four wall sidelined him early, he followed up that run with a sixth place finish in the Kmart 400 at Michigan. It was his best career finish, after missing nearly half of his rookie season recovering from injuries suffered in a practice crash at Atlanta.
The second-generation driver cut his teeth in NASCAR’s Featherlite Modified Tour, finishing runner-up for the championship in both 1995 and 1996. A pole-winning run subbing for Joe Nemechek in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Watkins Glen in 1996 caught the attention of Earnhardt, who hired the young ace to pilot his Busch Series car in 1997. Park came through with a sensational Rookie of the Year campaign, finishing third in the point standings with three victories and four second-place finishes.
Now, Park is emerging as a contender in NASCAR’s senior division, knocking on the door for his first victory. Having the race sponsor painted on the fenders of his car will have him even more excited when he returns to South Florida.
"I think anyone coming to the Pennzoil 400 is going to be in for a pretty good show," said Park. "The track is fast enough that the fans will get the speed they all seem to like. But, the track isn't so fast that we can't do a little beating and banging. I love
beating and banging as long as that Pennzoil car comes out on top. If you have never seen a NASCAR Winston Cup race then I think you will be in for a treat if you come to the Pennzoil 400."
Park is no stranger to South Florida, and had the opportunity to witness the rebuilding of Homestead and the birth of the Speedway following Hurricane Andrew’s devastation in 1992.
"What's really neat about the race track is the story behind it. If you saw that area of South Florida after the hurricane came through it would have taken a lot of imagination to think they could rebuild that place so quickly. That's a testament to the people down there. They could have given up and nobody would have questioned them, but they decided to stick it out and they turned it into a pretty cool area."
A "pretty cool" area with a "really neat" race track, and Steve Park would like nothing better than to drive to Victory Lane in the inaugural Pennzoil 400.
Steve Park on South Florida
"Not only is Homestead a world-class race track, but Miami is a world-class city. I've spent the last two New Year's Eves in South Florida and had a blast. I go down there to take a break from the racing scene. Like Will Smith says in that song ‘I came for two days of playing and ended up staying.’"
Reserved grandstand seats are now on sale for the Pennzoil 400. For tickets call (305) 230-7223. For additional information, visit the official Homestead-Miami Speedway web site at www.racemiami.com.
[ This is the fourth in a series of releases featuring the thoughts of key NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitors in anticipation of the inaugural Pennzoil 400, Nov. 11-14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.]