Steve Park Cleared to Drive at Dover

Park cleared to race at Dover By Shawn A. Akers MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 16, 1998) He may be a little beaten up, even shaken up, but Steve Park will be the driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo in Sunday's MBNA Gold 400 at Dover Downs...

Park cleared to race at Dover By Shawn A. Akers

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 16, 1998) He may be a little beaten up, even shaken up, but Steve Park will be the driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo in Sunday's MBNA Gold 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway this Sunday. Results from a late Monday evening CAT scan showed Park sustained no head injury after an afternoon testing accident at the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla. Park was released from the hospital Monday night after the CAT scan as well as X-rays on his neck and back proved negative.

Park crashed in turn three of the 1.5-mile oval and walked to the ambulance under his own power. Track medical crews transported Park to Homestead General Hospital for observation when he appeared disoriented.

"Obviously the CAT scan report is good news," said Ty Norris, motorsports director at Dale Earnhardt Inc. "Steve was shaken up pretty good in the wreck and today he said he's bruised and sore all over, but he's going to be fine. Steve will race this weekend."

Park was at Homestead assisting the DEI Busch team in its preparation for the season ending Jiffy Lube 300 on Nov. 15 and the Nov. 28 Winston Cup exhibition race at the similarly configured Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan.

Park suffered a broken right leg, left collarbone and right shoulder blade in a March 6 wreck at Atlanta. He returned to the Pennzoil Monte Carlo in Indianapolis on Aug. 1 after missing 13 races.

Park and the DEI team returned to North Carolina on Tuesday.

This Sunday's MBNA Gold 400 will be Park's first NASCAR Winston Cup race at "The Monster Mile," although Park has raced there several times in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and the Busch North Series, a NASCAR Touring Division. He failed to qualify for last year's fall NASCAR Winston Cup race at Dover and was injured when the series visited there in May this year.

Park and his Dale Earnhardt Inc.., teammates tested at Dover on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. He was one of the first drivers to drive on the track since track officials ground down several of the trickier bumps in preparation for the Indy Racing League race on July 18.

"They have called that track the Monster Mile or White Lightning plus whatever name they are using now," Park said. "I think that place has more nicknames than any track we go to. If you notice, none of them are nice soothing names either. There is good reason for that. I think all the names are designed to intimidate the drivers and especially a rookie driver.

"The concrete bumps were ground down for the IRL race a few months ago. I don't know if the grounding down is going to be an issue this weekend. The track is better and smoother than before. If you look at the track closely, with it being cement, there is a crack every eight or ten feet that gives you a speed bump effect.

"They didn't take the speed bump effect out of the track as much as it did some of the major dips and bumps that would upset an open wheel car. The spots they did grind down were a little slick but once the Winston Cup cars get there and put some rubber on the track it will be fine."

Failing to qualify for last year's MBNA 400 was a bit of an intimidating experience for Park, who finished fifth in both NASCAR Busch Series races held there last season. It may be such, Park said, until he gets a handle on the place.

"We went to Dover last year in the No. 14 car and didn't make the showm, so I was pretty worried about the place," Park said. "Then we went and tested there right after New Hampshire and ran a lot faster than we did last year. I think Dover is a place that rewards experience. It's an intimidating place until you get on it when you have a fast comfortable car and then it isn't so bad." Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Steve Park