Steve Park Comes Back From Flat Tire To Finish Watkins Glen Fifth Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 8, 2008) - What could have been a disastrous day at Watkins Glen International turned into a successful one for Steve Park, driver of the No. 35 Waste ...
Steve Park Comes Back From Flat Tire To Finish Watkins Glen Fifth
Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 8, 2008) - What could have been a disastrous day at Watkins Glen International turned into a successful one for Steve Park, driver of the No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Dodge on the NASCAR Camping World East Series. Park ran in the top three for most of the event, but suffered a cut left front tire with just ten laps to go in the race's scheduled distance. Park did not give up, though, and used those final laps to race from the fourteenth position to finish fifth.
Park, a Sprint Cup winner at Watkins Glen in 2002, returned to the site of that win with high hopes. While only 26th fastest in the opening practice session, the NDS Motorsports team did not panic, and the Steve Hibbard-led crew made the necessary changes to get Park fifth-fastest in the second session. Improvement continued throughout the weekend, with Park qualifying fourth-best.
At the start of the race, Park held his fourth position for the first fourteen laps, then moved into fourth place. He made a scheduled fuel stop seventeen laps into what was supposed to be a 51-lap race, and after the round of pit stops were complete, he was sitting third and running with the two leaders. He continued to hound the first and second place cars until he slowed on lap 41 with a left front tire that was losing air. Park pitted, a fresh tire was put on, and he resumed the race back in fourteenth position, but still on the lead lap.
"The flat tire was disappointing," he said. "We had been running with the top two cars and we were only running about eighty percent. I ran over some debris and that caused a puncture in my left front tire and that put us way behind, and I had to go from being on cruise control to having to get up on the wheel and get back everything that I could."
With two laps to go in the scheduled distance, another competitor blew his engine and this forced the race to be stopped for track clean-up. At the time, Park was eleventh. He would only have two more laps of racing to work with as the distance was extended with a green-white-checker finish. What happened when the race resumed was classic Park: In less than two laps - the field was frozen on the white-flag lap due to an accident bringing out the caution again - he picked up six positions to earn his first top-five finish of the season.
"Those last two laps were something else," he explained. "I had passed four cars pretty quickly to get up to seventh, and all around me there were guys with flat tires and guys bouncing off each other. I had to really look ahead and see what was going on in front of me to make sure I didn't get caught up in anything, and we kept making passes and wound up in the top five."
The Watkins Glen race will be broadcast on SpeedTV on Wednesday, July 2 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Park continues to run third in the series points, and is now the only driver to post top-ten finishes in each of the four races run in 2008. His next opportunity to continue that streak comes on Friday, June 27th, when the series makes the first of two stops at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Park has wins at the Magic Mile in a variety of cars and looks to add to his impressive record there when that race goes green at 5:10 p.m.