Steve Park Talks About His Recovery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 16, 1998) Pennzoil Monte Carlo driver Steve Park returned to his Cornelius, N.C., home Saturday after time in Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. ...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 16, 1998) Pennzoil Monte Carlo driver Steve Park returned to his Cornelius, N.C., home Saturday after time in Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Park is recovering from a broken right femur, a broken left collarbone, a broken right shoulder blade and two chipped teeth suffered in a crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 6. Park's recovery is expected to take 3-6 months. Park has already begun rehabilitation under the care of Dr. Walt Beaver, an orthopedic surgeon. Park said he is still in pain from the injury but uses crutches to move around his house.

       Park made the following comments on Sunday:
       
       What Do You Remember About The Accident?

"I only remember the car was running great and we were all pumped up. We were doing qualifying runs just trying to make sure the car was fast enough for a top-five or to sit on the front row. It was just a routine day. Something happened in Turn 4. I think something broke on the right front of the Pennzoil car and made it do a hard right into the retaining wall. That is all I remember until I woke up with the workers pulling me out of the car." How Do You Feel?

"From the accident standpoint I feel a lot better today than I did the day of the accident. At least I'm now home. I can fend for myself. My shoulders have healed up enough to where I can use my arms and hands. Although, everything is bruised and banged up, the leg is still the main thing. That has caused me the most pain. It is a pain that fluctuates constantly from bad to worse. I declined to take any of the morphine-based painkillers because of the way it made me feel. I wanted off them as soon as possible. The painkillers I'm taking now make the pain go from the worst kind of pain to just making it hurt bad. I can't sit back and relax. My leg won't let me forget about it. My teeth are OK except I'd like to get them fixed pretty soon." Thoughts on the Accident?

"This is something that is part of the sport. I hate that it came during my rookie season. I wanted a good clean season to get some track time. It's been a little disappointing. I mean we were running decent at Daytona and Rockingham. We had a really competitive car in Atlanta and it got destroyed in the wreck. I think we could have qualified in the top-five that afternoon.

"I'm not down or depressed. I've had a lot of support from the drivers who've been through this before. Kyle Petty's been by and so has Bill Elliott. Those guys have been through this and have been real encouraging. They told me I'm not going to hop back in the Pennzoil Monte Carlo next week and go racing again. When you realize that it gives you more time to sit back and heal your own body and take care of yourself. I've got to go through the rehabilitation and get back even better than I was before." When Do You Plan on Returning?

"My time frame is to return as soon as possible. The doctors have generalized that I will be back in 3 to 6 months. I'm not going to rush anything. I'm going to do what they tell me to do and get through the rehabilitation so the leg and whole rest of the body will be as good as they need to be to compete in Winston Cup. I will get back in the car as soon as I feel strong enough to be competitive and strong enough to survive another hit." Thoughts on Rookie of the Year?

"It hurts that I can't be part of the rookie battle because it would certainly have been a blast racing Kenny Irwin, Jerry Nadeau and Kevin LePage all year. I'm going to return before the end of the year so I doubt I'll get a chance to win the rookie award. Our goals are more than just that award. We want to win championships. The best way for us to do that is get me back in the Pennzoil Monte Carlo as soon as possible to get as much experience as I can." Rehabilitation Progress So Far?

"I'm in the early stages doing therapy about an hour a day. Right now its just getting the muscles from the zero stage to where they can react to what your brain tells it. Right now my brain tells my leg to move and it doesn't and that is kind of discouraging. Despite that, it's been going pretty good. Kyle Petty has been around before and after some of my therapy sessions. He's said he was amazed at how far the leg has come in little more than a week. He said, 'Hey man, my leg wouldn't bend that much in the first three weeks after my wreck.' That has been encouraging." Return to the race track?

"I have plans to get back to the racetrack as soon as possible. I'd like to come to maybe Bristol or Martinsville. I was really looking forward to participating as a competitor. Right now, I want to get well enough to where I can get back in the shop and help the team. Heck, I don't care if it's just on a scooter or something I have to wheel around on. I want to come back to the race shop soon." What Have You Told Your Team?

"This team is going to continue to grow and I hope to help the new driver with whatever I can. I told the team I'm still part of this team and I don't want them to think that just because I have an injury that I'm discouraged. They are my team and I want them to work hard just as if I was there. We are all a bunch of new guys from different teams who've come to almost a new family. To lose one of your leaders doesn't mean you should give up or quit." Difficulties Watching Your Car On The Track?

"This isn't my first racing-related injury. It's always hard to see someone else in your car. Actually it's Teresa and Dale's car so it really isn't my car. But, I take pride in the Pennzoil team and its going to be hard watching them without me. We want to be a team that wins championships down the road and this shouldn't change a thing. If reaching those goals means I'm going to have to be a consultant for a while then that's what I plan to do. We have to go forward together." How has Kyle Petty Helped?

"Kyle has been very supportive. He has made me laugh through this whole ordeal. He helped me through this crisis, but told me he expected me to help someone else through a crisis down the road." Fans & Friends?

"You find out who your friends are in a situation like this. I'm thankful for the medical trauma unit at the track that helped me out of the car and got me to the care center. I guess that is where seconds count and you are most vulnerable. I'm also thankful for the infield care that got me stabilized and off to Georgia Baptist and then to the Carolinas Medical Center. Dr. Walt Beaver is watching over me now and will run my rehabilitation. I also appreciate all the fans' thoughts and prayers. There is no way I could respond to everyone who has visited, called or just thought about me. But, I'm thankful for all their efforts." What Is Your Long Term View?

"When I started this year I told everyone that I've waited 30 years to live my dream and drive in Winston Cup. Waiting a few more months to continue that dream in our Pennzoil Monte Carlo isn't going to be a big deal. I can handle this."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Steve Park , Kyle Petty , Jerry Nadeau