Orleans Racing announced Wednesday that Steve Park will assume the seat vacated by Brendan Gaughan in the Craftsman Truck Series. Gaughan, who is moving to the No. 77 Nextel Cup ride, is the son of Orleans team owner and Casino magnate Michael ...
Orleans Racing announced Wednesday that Steve Park will assume the seat vacated by Brendan Gaughan in the Craftsman Truck Series. Gaughan, who is moving to the No. 77 Nextel Cup ride, is the son of Orleans team owner and Casino magnate Michael Gaughan.
Park will run the full 2004 season in the No. 62 Dodge truck. The ride is a little bit of a demotion for Park, who has spent the last several years running in the Cup series for elite teams such as Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Richard Childress Racing. Trouble brewed for Park when he was injured at a Darlington Busch race in 2001.
Park suffered a severe head trauma, forcing him to sit out the entire 2001 season. DEI, initially held his No. 1 seat, but poor performance upon his return in 2002 saw that relationship come to and end. In 2003, DEI dropped Park and RCR placed him into the No. 30 Chevy.
But it seemed Park could not find any of the former magic he had in a racecar prior to his debilitating injury. He was released from his contract at RCR at the end of the 2003 season, and did not have many prospects in returning to the Cup series.
It's a big break for the 36-year-old Long Island, NY native. Many had speculated that his career was washed up, but the bid of confidence by Gaughan and Orleans Racing may bring new life into Park's struggling career.
"We've got an awesome driver who's excited about driving for Orleans Racing," Gaughan said. "I talked to a lot of guys who (couldn't make a commitment). Our driver said he didn't want to be anywhere else and that made a difference to me."
Gaughan also stated that Orleans Racing expected to make announcement later in the week regarding their sponsor and ownership status for this season. Last season, Gaughan won six races and finished fourth in points but still struggled to find sponsor dollars. The family Casino business served as the primary paint scheme and financial backer of the No. 62 in 2003.
"We have a new partner as an owner -- more like a managing partner," Gaughan said. "With my dad managing the casinos, this will be a help for him, and she will also be announcing our sponsor."