Park follows Jarrett at Texas

FT. WORTH, Texas -- Finishing second to Dale Jarrett for the second time in the past three races -- the first being Darlington two weeks ago, Pennzoil driver Steve Park was slightly disappointed with the runner-up position, especially after ...

FT. WORTH, Texas -- Finishing second to Dale Jarrett for the second time in the past three races -- the first being Darlington two weeks ago, Pennzoil driver Steve Park was slightly disappointed with the runner-up position, especially after dominating during the mid-part of the race and proving himself a strong contendor for the win during the Harrah's 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"The back of that No. 88 car is getting pretty familiar and I'm not really liking it too much," commented Park, who finished 0.703 seconds behind the victor. "I think just the competitive side of me is not happy with finishing second, but when a day or two goes by, you look back and look at the points and you think maybe second isn't that bad after all."

Starting in the fifth position, Park quickly moved toward the front and was third when the first caution flag came out at lap 34. Although the car was a little tight in the corners, Park maneuvered the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet into the first spot at lap 142. He maintained that spot for 48 laps as his teammate Dale Jr. followed close by. Communication between the two drivers through the spotter allowed the DEI team to pull away from the remainder of the 43-car field as the duo found the groove that best suited them both. However, debris on the track at lap 189 brought everybody into the pits for tires and gas, eliminating their advantage.

Taking over the lead once more at lap 236, Park continued his strong run around the 1.5-mile quad oval. Knowing the fuel mileage was going to be close, crew chief Paul Andrews elected to bring Park into the pits for a splash of gas at lap 277 when a caution occurred. With most of the other teams remaining on the track, Park returned in the 15th spot.

"We got ourselves in a little trouble," said Park.  "The car didn't take as
much gas as we thought it would and had to pit one more time.  It shows how
strong this Pennzoil team is.  They were able to rally back from that."

Working his way back through the field, Park was seventh when the #21 car hit the wall in turn two -- bringing out the 10th and final caution of the day at lap 313. A 13.61-second pit stop performed by the Pennzoil crew -- "the Houston Oilers" -- put Park back out in seventh, which was great considering some teams elected to only take on two tires or stay out. The fresh rubber gave Park an advantage as he followed the eventual race winner toward the front with just 18 laps remaining.

Picking off position by position, Park moved into his final spot at lap 331 when he passed the #10 car for second. Scoring his third top-five finish of the season, Park climbed one spot in the Winston Cup points standings to fourth.

Johnny Benson, who did not pit during the final stop, rookie Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, who both took on two tires only, rounded out the top-five.

-Dianna Drayson

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Steve Park , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson