Steve Park ...
Steve Park #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Falling to 13th in the Winston Cup points standings, Steve Park in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo starts in his 95th Winston Cup event as the series heads to Darlington Raceway for the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 this Sunday afternoon, March 18; shown live on FOX beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.
Completing 218 of the 293 laps in last year's race at Darlington, Park got vengeance on the "Track too Tough to Tame" by posting a top-10 finish later in the season. During the first event, Park worked his way from his 31st starting position into the 17th spot before the engine in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet let go -- relegating him to a 39th-place finish.
With only five races under his belt at Darlington Raceway, Park has posted two top-10 finishes, with an average finish of 19. Still early in his career, Park is sure to continually improve upon his performances and the 1.366-mile track should be no exception, especially with the additional track time he'll gain from competing in the Busch event this weekend.
Park's day ended earlier than anticipated at Atlanta this past weekend when the engine in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet let go without any warning as he entered turn two on lap 81 during the Cracker Barrel 500. After qualifying 32nd, Park moved up into the 24th spot before green flag pit stops began around lap 53. A four-tire change with air pressure adjustments, the Pennzoil crew returned Park to the track in the 11th spot with a 15.7-second pit stop. Park was running in the 13th position when the misfortune left him posted in the 43rd position.
"The entire Pennzoil team is ready to regroup after our disappointing finish last weekend in Atlanta," said Park, who will also be attempting to qualify in the Busch Series race this weekend. "It was just one of those things where the engine just quit with no warning -- it didn't sputter or anything, just stopped running. It was somewhat disheartening because we had high expectations; but these guys always seem to pull together when the chips are down, and I don't expect Darlington to be any different.
"Darlington is such a rhythm track," said Park. "Once you find a groove that works for you, and as long as you can stay off the walls, which everyone knows isn't always easy to do, we should be able to leave here with a pretty decent finish."
"Park running in the Busch race is always a plus for us since it gives him additional track experience," commented crew chief Paul Andrews. "Now that the engines are almost the same between the two series (Winston Cup and Busch), it allows him to get a good feel for the track before it's time to get into the Pennzoil car.
"Nobody from DEI tested at Darlington," continued Andrews. "It is such a hard place to test since the track is so abrasive and it's hard to get a good comparison from run to run. Our test in Rockingham, not to mention how well we did there, will help us tremendously since it's the same tire. Darlington is a tough place but I definitely enjoy the challenge."