STEVE PARK (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram) "The test is going pretty good. I got a chance to spend the last two weeks out in Vegas. I tried to learn some new names, and we get along great. They've been together for a long time, and it's ...
STEVE PARK (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram)
"The test is going pretty good. I got a chance to spend the last two weeks out in Vegas. I tried to learn some new names, and we get along great. They've been together for a long time, and it's our first time actually on a racetrack testing together. We're plugging away, making headway on a lot of things. We're making an aggressive search for a crew chief. A lot of things are going on with the Orleans Dodge, and I'm just happy to be here, happy to be a part of it. We've seen what Brendan (Gaughan) has done with this team and how well the team runs. With minor changes over the winter, it didn't have a lot of turnover."
ARE YOU AWARE HOW COMPETITIVE THE SERIES WILL BE THIS SEASON?
"I think the Busch Series better take a look because the truck series is coming. There's a lot of good talent here from veterans, I hate to call 'em old people because I get labeled as being old nowadays, but there's a lot of veterans and a lot of good, young talent. I've raced with guys like Bobby Hamilton and Ted Musgrave and Jack Sprague. I'm looking forward to that, but I was watching the truck series last year and I saw it really coming on. Look at the changes for this year. It's going to have race fans paying a lot of attention. It's going to be a great series to be a part of."
COMMENT ON TRUCK RACE AT DAYTONA UNDER THE LIGHTS
"I think I spun the tires leaving pit road. It really has some power, but on the other hand, I did my first plug check and I thought the truck had a parachute. When I hit the ignition switch, it stopped. I wondered if I hit the brake. It pushes so much wind compared to the cars. I got a plug check down by turn one, and I couldn't coast to the pits. I had to fire it back up again in turn four. I think that's part of the change I need to learn. Now if I need a plug check, I can get it in turn three. I can't wait to draft and learn how the trucks react and how different they are from the cars. The race was so competitive here last year. It is the first truck race here under the lights. Daytona is a great place to race under the lights. Daytona is probably one of the best places to race under the lights. It's lit up so well. I think the visibility is even better at night because you don't have the high glare from the sun coming down. There's plenty of light. There's no question about the lights at Daytona. They did a great job putting the lights up."
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT STEPPING BACK INTO THE TRUCK SERIES?
"I don't look at it like a step back. This series is moving forward. My game plan after last year was to put myself in position to be with a team that can run good. It's hard to get up on Sunday morning and know you don't have a chance to run good and win the race. If everything lines up you'll finish 10th or 20th. I aggressively sought after a Busch or truck ride where I could win races. That 62 Dodge pickup truck won a lot of races last year. Once I found out when that seat because available that was where I wanted to be. With one phone call from Kevin Curin and Shane Wilson, I was like 'where's Brendan going?' I was like, 'stick me in coach, I'm ready to go.' This is where I want to be. This is where I can win races. As far as launching a career again, what I want to do is win races. If opportunities arise from this situation, so be it. We'll cross those bridges when we get to it. Our main focus is to take that Dodge to the winner's circle and win the championship for Orleans Racing and Mr. Gaughan."
WILL THIS HELP YOUR CONFIDENCE?
"I don't lack confidence. My personality is full throttle. I can honestly say that every driver you see in the three series the difference in equal cars is a tenth. What separates the cars and the trucks is the people and equipment and how they prepare it. NASCAR has done a great job of making sure the cars and equipment are equal. What makes the big difference is the people, and that's what separates winning teams from losing teams. Orleans Racing has been successful in the past because they have a great group of people that work well together. I'm just learning this. When I first went there, I was so impressed how clean and how well prepared their shop is. Kevin Curin builds the engines, and he's right across the street in a great engine shop. If preparation has anything to do with winning races, it doesn't surprise me they've won in the past because they're prepared to win. They want to win races and championships and their commitment to excellence is No. 1. To do well and be competitive in the truck series, you need to have a pretty first-rate operation to run up front. You compete against guys like Roush. He's no slouch. He's pretty competitive. I think Michael Gaughan and the Orleans Dodge is first rate, and I'm proud to be part of it."
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR 2004?
"To win. How many times depends on what position we're put in. We'd like to be in the top five in the points and be able to race for the championship. Our main goal is to continue the tradition of Orleans Racing. Our main focus is to win and let the points fall where they may. We'll see where we are in the last five races and then race for the championship. Brendan did a good job last year and just fell short. He went from leading the points to fourth in the last race."
DO YOU HAVE ANY CUP PLANS IN 2004?
"I'm eligible for the Budweiser Shootout. We want to prepare a Dodge for that. We don't have anything concrete for that just yet, but we have three weeks left and a lot of good prospects. I'd like to compete in that. As for any other time, our main focus is going to be the truck series. If I do any Cup racing, it'll probably be with Orleans Racing."
COMMENT ON DODGE TRUCK PROGRAM
"I was impressed by the commitment level Dodge has with the Orleans Racing Team. It's a factory-supported team. I was with Chevrolet a long time, but my first opportunity came in a Dodge truck when I drove for Walker Evans. I was at the Detroit Auto Show last week and got reunited with a lot of Dodge people I knew from years past. I first started racing for Dodge and got stolen away. Now they stole me back. The factory support from Dodge is second to none. Having that factory support in the truck series is important to putting the team up front. You see other manufacturers coming in. Toyota is coming in and they have a whole corner of the garage. It looks impressive, but we'll see what they've got come February."