#1 Pennzoil Chevrolet
New England 300
New Hampshire International Speedway (1.058-mile oval)
Ø Starting in his 109th NASCAR Winston Cup event, Steve Park in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo prepares for the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway this Sunday, July 22. A very familiar face to the 1-mile track, the New York native welcomes the opportunity to compete in the 300-lap race, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EDT on TNT.
Ø In last year's July event at Loudon, Park started in the 23rd spot but moved into the top 10 when crew chief Paul Andrews made the call not to pit after the second caution of the afternoon. Gambling with pit strategy, Park hoped the rain would continue since he didn't need to make another pit stop for fuel and would have moved up several positions. The rain did eventually cut the race short but not until after Park pitted, relegating him to a 28th-place finish.
Ø What a difference a season makes...at the this point last year, Park stood 20th in the Winston Cup points standings, and although recent set backs has dropped him to 13th, the Pennzoil team remains confident of a rebound back into the top 10. Park has always run strong in the second half of season and New Hampshire proved to be the turning point in last season's competition -- moving from 20th to 13th in the following three events. Also in comparison to last season, Park has already posted three more top-10 finishes at this point, he had marked four of them last year. He went on during the 2000 season to post nine more including his first Winston Cup career victory at Watkins Glen.
Ø Last weekend, Pennzoil driver Steve Park had high aspirations of a great finish during the inaugural Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway after posting the third fastest time during final practice. With a single groove around the new track, passing proved difficult early in the race, yet Park, who started in the 30th position, still managed to maneuver his way through the field. Running in the 17th position when the NASCAR-mandated caution occurred, Park returned to competition in the 28th spot after several other drivers chose to remain on the track since they pitted during the first caution that happened on lap 24. Noticed upon removal from the car during the first two pits stops, the left front tires had both blistered and several other teams were also experiencing tire problems. Pitting at lap 115 for four tires and adjustments, Park still worked hard to gain his lap back; but, without warning, the engine let go and Park hit the outside retaining wall. Ending his day at lap 134, Park was posted in the 41st position at the end of the 3-hour and 18-minute race that claimed a total of five engines.
"This is like coming home," said Park, who raced in the New Hampshire area during his modified days. "I lived in nearby Connecticut and traveled all over the northeast to race. I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends again. Racing at New Hampshire is tricky because it's a one-mile track with short track characteristics. Being able to stay in the low groove is imperative at least to start. I think we can put on a good show for the ^Ñhome' crowd and get that Pennzoil Chevrolet up to the front."
Crew chief Paul Andrews:
"For the tight, flat corners, downforce means more than drag since the straightaways aren't that long. We are also making sure that we have a flexible set up so we can make necessary changes. Steve (Park) likes this track and that helps in working through any handling issues. It will be a good showing, we could really use it right now. The guys remain optimistic though because we know we can run well. We learn a little more each week. This track has similarities to Richmond, where we raced really well earlier this season, and we are taking the sister car from that race to New Hampshire. "
The one lap for qualifying is sufficient, although New Hampshire is marginal, but as long as its fair for everybody, there's no problem. The second laps are sometimes slower anyway and often teams don't even take another circuit." <pre> Steve Park New Hampshire International Speedway Performance Record Year Race St Fin Laps Status Winnings 2000 thatlook.com 300 (WC) 23 28 271/273 Running $51,200 Busch 200 (Busch) 21 10 200/200 Running 13,675 New Hampshire 300 (WC) 6 34 275/300 Accident 46,975 1999 Jiffy Lube 300 (WC) 11 12 300/300 Running 51,775 Dura Lube 300 (WC) 11 15 300/300 Running 51,025 1998 Jiffy Lube 300 (WC) DNS CMT 300 (WC) 39 41 218/300 Running 25,625 1997 U.S. Cellular 200 (Busch) 8 2 200/200 Running 20,975