Steve Park Second At NHMS Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 13, 2008) - A conscious effort to save gas during the running of the Heluva Good Fall 125, a NASCAR Camping World Series race held Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, almost resulted in ...
Steve Park Second At NHMS
Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 13, 2008) - A conscious effort to save gas during the running of the Heluva Good Fall 125, a NASCAR Camping World Series race held Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, almost resulted in Steve Park winning the race. Park, driving the No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet, was passed less than two laps from the finish of the rescheduled race, but held on to finish second.
Park, who finished 28th at NHMS in June, returned with the NDS Motorsports team looking for improvement. Early signs were encouraging as he was fourth-best in the single practice session and second-best in qualifying held Thursday afternoon.
"I was real loose," he said, "and when they told me my speed from my first lap I had to abort my second lap because I couldn't hold my breath that long. I told Peyton [Sellers, polesitter] that if he could go faster than that, he could have it, and he did a good job and just beat us."
Rain forced the postponement of the race until Saturday morning. When the green flag fell, Park slid into line in third place for the early going. Caution on lap 19 brought most of the field onto pit road, Park included, for topping off with enough gas to get to the race's end.
Restarting deep in the field, Park knew if he was going to be in contention for the win,, he'd have to make sure he had enough gas to get there.
"The whole time after we made our fuel stop I was being conscious about saving fuel," he explained. "I didn't think about doing it just for the last twenty laps. I had experience in saving fuel from the past and drew on that today."
With gas mileage in mind, Park knew he didn't have to push his Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet hard to make up positions; they'd come to him as others pitted later in the race. He proceded cautiously back into the top ten with thirty laps in the books and was on cruise control through a 58-lap green-flag run.
Park's strategy was starting to pay dividends as caution on lap 92 brought more of his competition onto pit road, moving him up to fourth place. After the restart he passed his way to second place behind Brad Leighton's No. 55 car, and he rode behind Leighton until that car stumbled and slowed, out of gas just four laps from the finish.
"We pitted at the same time as the 55 car and I was pacing myself behind him," Park said. "When he ran out of gas I had to tell myself not to get too excited because it could have happened to me."
Out front, Park could see the white flag flying but so could Eddie MacDonald, racing for the lead after a late pit stop for fresh tires.
"I wanted to win the race, but Eddie MacDonald did a great job," Park explained. "He pitted late for fuel and tires, and I was conserving fuel. When he got to me, there wasn't much I could do but let him go. I had to make sure I could still finish second rather than race him and risk running out of gas and finish 20th."
The runner-up finish is Park's best of the season, and moved him from ninth to sixth in the season standings with just two races to go.
"We had a good race and a good car," he said. "We needed a good point day. We've been taken out of contention in previous races so getting a second place finish feels good, although we really wanted to win."
Park will race next at Dover International Speedway when the Camping World East Series runs Friday afternoon's Sunoco 150.