Not Exactly A Walk In The Park

8828Jpg
The previous five weeks had been a nightmare for Pennzoil Chevy driver Steve Park.

Not only had he not finished higher than 20th in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race during that time, but he had also tumbled six places in the points standings from seventh to 13th.

Something had to be done to stop the bleeding, and his savior came in the form of a hard-fought, sixth-place finish in the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway Sunday. And while he overwhelm anyone nor pick up any positions in the points, Park was more than satisfied with both his and his team’s effort.

“I’m pleased,” Park said of his run at NHIS. “We’ve had five really bad weeks that we’ve struggled. To come close to getting another Top 5 is a good sign that we’re back.”

Since a second-place finish at Dover Downs International Speedway on June 3, Park had struggled to finishes of 23rd at Michigan, 32nd at Pocono, 40th at Sears Point, 20th at Daytona and 41st the previous weekend in the inaugural Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

In the early part of the 2001 season, the Pennzoil team was finishing in the Top 10 on a regular basis. The first six races of the campaign saw Park finish in the Top 10 five times, including a victory at Rockingham in February and a pair of second-place finishes at Darlington and Texas.

Emotions ran high for Park and members of the No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc., team following the death of their team owner, Dale Earnhardt, at Daytona in the season opener. The victory at Rockingham was the following week showed a lot of character, and the subsequent finishes in the following weeks.

A stretch of four finishes outside the Top 10 in the next five races caught many by surprise, but Park made a strong run at Dover, finishing second to a dominant Jeff Gordon that day.

“We ran good the first part of the year,” Park said. “They (NASCAR) took the bump-rubbers away and that threw us a curve ball. We’ve been able to go back and test and try to get back on track. We qualified fifth and finished six, and I consider that being back on track.”

Sunday’s finish was his first career Winston Cup Top 10 at “The Magic Mile.” In five previous Winston Cup races there, his best result had been 12th, in the spring race in 1999. He’s finished 28th or worse three times at NHIS.

However, in his only NASCAR Busch Series race there, in 1997, he finished second. He also had won there previously in the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series and the NASCAR Busch North Series.

“We’ve won a lot of races at New Hampshire (in other series), but it makes me feel really good to be able to run well here in a Cup car,” the native of East Northport, N.Y., said. “We just haven’t been able to be competitive in Winston Cup here before. To come back and qualifying well and finish well – I just feel great about it.”

Another thing Park can feel good about is the fact that, despite his downward spiral the past few weeks, he’s only 37 points behind 10th place Johnny Benson in the Winston Cup points standings.

This weekend, Park will try to erase the memory of a horrible finish earlier this season at Pocono when the Winston Cup Series makes its second and final visit this season to the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped track. Then it’s on to Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400, where Park finished a respectable 16th a year ago.

It’s the week after that, however, that Park is most looking forward to. It marks his return to the road course at Watkins Glen International, the site of his first career Winston Cup victory last August. On the heels of his strong finish at New Hampshire, Park hopes to make a run at the Top 10 in the points in the upcoming weeks.

“The next few races we’re going to some places where we’ve done well, and some places where we haven’t done so well,” Park said. “This stretch is really going to show what this team’s made of. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on the Pennzoil team to pick things up in the weeks to follow. We should do quite well at most of these places.”

Photos

  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • From the Archives: Kansas
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400

Advertisement

You may unsubscribe at any time.
Motor Racing Network
555 MRN Drive
Concord, NC 28027
www.mrn.com/Footer/Contact-Us.aspx
(704)262-6700
feedback@mrn.com
  • © 2015 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites