Watkins Glen Budweiser race report

Steve Park earned his first career Winston Cup victory in the Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) Pennzoil Chevy, holding off a spirited charge by veteran Mark Martin in the final laps of the Global Crossing at the Glen at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Park and Dale...

Steve Park earned his first career Winston Cup victory in the Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) Pennzoil Chevy, holding off a spirited charge by veteran Mark Martin in the final laps of the Global Crossing at the Glen at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Park and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have now combined for three Winston Cup victories this season for DEI (plus victories in the Winston all-star race and the Winston Open). It was a less-than-stellar afternoon for Dale Jr. and the Budweiser team as a failed transmission caused him to crash hard on lap 35. The Bud team repaired some of the damage, but the transmission locked up again on lap 60 (of 90), and they were credited with a 40th place finish.

The Key Moment: Starting 14th, Dale Jr. aggressively jumped to seventh position by lap four. Following the team's first pit stop on lap 27, the No. 8 car was running in the top 12 until Dale Jr. began reporting difficulty shifting into third gear on the 2.5-mile road circuit. The transmission finally locked-up on lap 35 as he was entering the fast, twisting "esses" section of the course, sending him hard into the wall.

Dale Junior's Quotes: "I want to say congratulations to Steve Park and all of the guys on the Pennzoil team. Steve passed me early on, and I knew he was fast. I know how hard they work, and they deserve to win. It was not a good day for me or dad (team owner Dale Earnhardt) in our cars - but this makes it a great day for DEI."

"We were good until the transmission acted up. I was just chillin' in the early stages, the car was really good. I started having trouble shifting into third gear and then it just got worse and worse. The linkage broke right off - you could see it hanging down below the transmission. Once that happened, the rear end just locked up and I spun around. It felt like it had been thrown into reverse.

"The guys did good to get the car back on the track, but I think we just bent the frame too badly. We came in again and welded on it, but it still felt like the back of the car was loose. I don't know how to explain it other than it was wobbling all over the place. It felt like I was going to crash in every corner.

"We dropped out (on lap 60) when the gear box seized again. It just stuck in first gear. The car looked like it had been beaten with sledgehammers on each corner. You know how they have those old cars at the fair where you can hit 'em with a sledgehammer for a dollar?! That's what it looked like…"

Global Crossing at the Glen Race Notes

Teamwork

A crash during Saturday morning's practice session left Dale Jr. uninjured but knocked the primary Bud Chevy out of action for the weekend. The crash happened less than one hour before the scheduled qualifying session and time was critical to get the back-up Bud car ready. The effort involved nearly every member of the Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) team.

Not only did Dale Jr. personally jump into action to help the Bud crew prepare the back-up No. 8 machine (climbing underneath the damaged race car to remove suspension and transmission parts), but many members of the DEI-owned Pennzoil team jumped in to help as well. Fellow DEI drivers Steve Park and Ron Hornaday (who subbed for an injured Terry Labonte in the Kellogg's car) were seen wrenching on the car and carrying gearbox parts across the garage area. At one stage, even DEI team general manager Ty Norris joined the fray, climbing underneath the crashed chassis to help dismantle the transmission.

The massive team effort resulted in the back-up car being pronounced ready to qualify mere minutes before rain washed out the qualifying session.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Terry Labonte , Steve Park , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Mark Martin