Park Surges Toward Front Early To Finish Ninth BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 19, 2001) -- Posting the 27th fastest time in qualifying, Pennzoil driver Steve Park wasn't content staying in the back of the field and quickly surged to the front --...
Park Surges Toward Front Early To Finish Ninth
BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 19, 2001) -- Posting the 27th fastest time in qualifying, Pennzoil driver Steve Park wasn't content staying in the back of the field and quickly surged to the front -- putting the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet in the 10th position by the 17th of 200 scheduled circuits during the Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
"We had a horse today," said Park, who'll turn 34 this week. "The Pennzoil Chevrolet didn't have much for them after last practice on Saturday afternoon, but Paul (Andrews -- crew chief), Dave (Charpentier -- engineer) and myself all had dinner together that night and hashed out what we needed. They did a great job putting together that race car -- it was a rocket."
Moving into the eighth spot by the 36th lap, Park then pitted for four tires and minor adjustments and resumed, following all green-flag stops, in the same position. Stopping again for service on lap 88, Park cycled back into the top 10 before the caution flag fell for rain on lap 96. When NASCAAR put out the red flag at lap 100, Park stood in the 10th position with two cars still needing to stop for fuel.
After a 1-hour, 45-minute rain delay, drivers were called back to their cars to resume the race. Before the green flag dropped though, crew chief Paul Andrews pulled Park into the pits for fuel only to try and gain an advantage should rain fall again. Working hard to get back into the top 10, Park, who restarted in the 16th position, sat in the 12th spot when the caution came out when the motor on the #28 car blew, dropping oil on the track. Taking on right side tires only, Park continued competition in the fifth position. Swapping spots between several drivers, the 33-year-old took the checkered flag in the ninth position as rain ended the race after 162 laps.
"Paul made some good calls in the pits today," said Park, who remains 11th in the Winston Cup points standings. "At first I didn't understand why he was pulling me back into the pits before the restart but then it made sense. Without knowing there was going to be a caution, he felt were going to have to pit about the time it would rain again. It was the right call and then he made the decision for just two tires. He was right on the money. The Pennzoil team is real happy with the ninth-place finish. Everyone worked real hard all weekend and it paid off."
Scoring Dodge's first victory since 1997, Sterling Marlin led the field to the checkered flag with polesitter Ricky Craven, Bill Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Johnny Benson rounding out the top five.