Park/Pennzoil Talladega preview

Ø Starting in his 99th Winston Cup event, Steve Park, driver of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned ...

Ø Starting in his 99th Winston Cup event, Steve Park, driver of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo, enjoyed a quiet weekend at home, mentally preparing for the next challenge on the Winston Cup schedule -- the second restrictor-plate, superspeedway race of the season. The Talladega 500 at the famed Talladega Superspeedway is scheduled for live coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 22.

Ø During the first superspeedway race of the season in Daytona, Park ran an impressive race after starting the "Great American Race" in the 25th spot -- leading his first laps on the infamous track, making it all the more disheartening when he got tangled up in the huge melee that took out numerous top drivers. The run, though, coupled with the strong outing last fall in Talladega has given the Pennzoil team optimism for this weekend.

Ø Still early in his season, Park has now earned more than $1 million in just eight races. With one victory and two second-place finishes, he continues to make strides during the 2001 Winston Cup season as one of the top drivers in contention for the championship.

Ø Completing 90.47 percent of the laps this season, Park sits fifth in the Winston Cup points standings, just 10 points away from the third spot held by both Johnny Benson and Sterling Marlin. This time last year, Park stood 20th in the points standings. Leading for a total of 458 laps in the first eight races, Park has held the point for 16.29 percent of the laps raced, remaining second to Jeff Gordon with 530 laps led or 18.85 percent. Third on the list sits Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett with 231 laps or 8.21 percent.

Ø The Pennzoil team recently completed a test session at the superspeedway. With a decent run in the fall race (finishing 19th in spite of running in the top 10), the crew hoped to find answers to keep Park up in the front while working on the qualifying efforts since last fall was qualified with a different restrictor plate.

Ø During the team's last spring outing at Talladega, Park took the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet to the front from his 41st starting position following a great first pit stop and a strong car. At lap 100 of the 188-lap event, Park was posted in the 14th spot and had moved as high as third, getting drafting help and watching close competition, often going three wide. Unfortunately, the Pennzoil car ran out of gas and Park went down four laps before getting involved in the 12-car melee that inevitably happens on the 2.66-mile track. The Pennzoil team worked diligently and got the car back out with 15 laps remaining to pick up some valuable positions and finish 32nd.

Crew chief Paul Andrews on the recent test at Talladega:
"We took two cars with us and for no apparent reason our new one just didn't respond they way would have liked, so needless to say...right now it's back at the shop being taken apart. We are taking the same car we raced in Daytona (the same car also saw action at Talladega last fall). We went a good speed with the new restrictor plate but it's hard to judge until everybody's on the track together. We should be okay and will have to see where we stack up."

Andrew's response to side-by-side racing:
"I'm glad that the driver's have been expressing their concerns about racing so close. It's all in their control. If they lose respect for each other and start blocking and cutting each other off then they create their own problems. Talladega commands respect."

Steve Park:
"In previous years, we haven't been known for our success on the superspeedways, but the Pennzoil team has worked real hard on getting that program together. I think that was evident in Daytona when we put ourselves in the front. I hated getting involved in that accident but sure no one did."

Park's response to side-by-side racing:
"Each car has a gas pedal and a brake pedal and the best racers are competing, so if everybody uses their heads we shouldn't have any problems."

<pre> Steve Park Talladega Superspeedway Performance Record Year Race St Fin Laps Status Winnings 2000 DieHard 500 (WC) 41 32 145/188 Running $45,695 Winston 500 (WC) 10 19 188/188 Running 50,000 1999 DieHard 500 (WC) 30 37 154/188 Running 36,790 Winston 500 (WC) 35 14 188/188 Running 46,185 1998 DieHard 500 (WC) DNS Winston 500 (WC) 35 41 101/188 Valve Spring 25,550 1997 B'ham Auto 500K (Busch) 12 2 117/117 Running 29,525


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