Steve Park Atlanta preview notes

Ø Remaining fifth in the Winston Cup points standings, Steve Park in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned ...

Ø Remaining fifth in the Winston Cup points standings, Steve Park in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-owned #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo starts in his 94th Winston Cup event as the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Cracker Barrel 500 this Sunday afternoon, March 11; shown live on FOX beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

Ø It was during last year's event in Atlanta where Park and the Pennzoil team scored their first Winston Cup top-five finish after taking the checkered flag in the fourth position. Starting the spring race in the third spot, Park took over the lead for 1 lap and stayed in the front pack for most of the afternoon to earn his that finish.

Ø Atlanta Motor Speedway, the site of Park's horrific crash in 1998, doesn't intimidate the New York native. Suffering from a broken right femur, left collarbone and right shoulder blade during that practice accident, Park only learned how much he really enjoyed racing when he wasn't in the car. Working twice as hard to get back to the track, he endured intense physical therapy to return as quickly as possible -- missing just 15 races in his rookie season.

Ø This past weekend in Vegas, Park followed up his victory with another top-10 finish when the yellow Pennzoil car crossed the finish line in the seventh position. After a dismal "Happy Hour" practice, the team pulled together and worked relentlessly on the Chevrolet to provide Park with a racecar that could move to the front.

Ø Running strong in each event so far this season, Park failed to lead a lap for the first time this season while competing in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Although the team posted another great finish, the 33-year-old driver didn't hold the point during the 267-lap event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Just three races into the season, Park has already led for 170 laps with the majority of those coming from the victory in Rockingham.

"Although Atlanta has a history with me, it doesn't intimidate me," said Park. "It just makes me want to work that much harder. We had a great race here last spring and, with the way the Pennzoil team is working together, we are expecting nothing but good consistent finishes. Atlanta doesn't owe me anything, I owe the Pennzoil team the best performance I can give and that is exactly what I plan to do."

"If someone would have told me last Saturday that we would have had a top-10 finish on Sunday, I may have doubted them," added Park. "To have a 'bad' day and finish seventh is a tribute to how committed the team is to performing at an optimum level. I can't say enough about Dave Charpentier (engineer) and Paul Andrews (crew chief). The two of them along with Steve Hmeil worked really hard to come up with the right combination to get that Pennzoil car working right in Vegas. I am so proud to be associated with this group of guys."

"Last week provided us with some challenges but we were able to overcome the obstacles," said Paul Andrews. "Steve is real helpful when it comes to telling us what the car needs. It helps that he has a mechanical background. The pit stops are also keeping us up front this season -- those guys are consistently pulling off 15-second stops. It's great when everything works the way it's suppose to."

-Dianna Drayson

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Steve Park