Park Making Progress

CONCORD, N.C. – Paul Andrews said Steve Park is “doing fine and making progress” in his recovery from a moderate concussion suffered in the South Carolina 200 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 1.

Andrews is the crew chief for Park’s No. 1 Chevy team on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Park has been out of the seat since the crash, which happened when Park mysteriously veered left under caution and was struck by the oncoming car of Larry Foyt.

Park is due to be out of the car for four to six weeks, and Andrews said Park’s doctors are still standing by that time frame.

“He’s making progress,” Andrews said. “When the accident first happened, he was making huge leaps and bounds. Now, the progress is real slow. The doctors are real happy with the progress.”

Park spends four to five hours a day in therapy, Andrews said, and that takes a lot out of him. Park hasn’t visited the Dale Earnhardt Inc. shop in Mooresville, N.C., but Andrews was hopeful he’d stop by in the next week or so.

“I talked to him (Monday), and he sounds real good,” Andrews said.

Andrews said there’s no rush to get Park back in the car, and he wants his driver to be at “100 percent” when he does come back. Kenny Wallace has replaced Park in the No. 1 car in the interim.

Andrews has looked at the wrecked car and said all the safety equipment worked the way it should have, though “everything was bent” and perhaps more could have been in place on the driver’s window. Andrews also said the steering wheel was the likely cause, as it wasn’t attached when emergency workers found Park, and the team could find no other likely causes.

UAW-GM Re-Ups with Track

Lowe’s Motor Speedway president and general manager H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler announced Tuesday afternoon that the UAW International Union and General Motors have extended their sponsorship of the fall race at the track until 2005, with an option for 2006.

Also, Wheeler said the purse for 2001 UAW-GM Quality 500 will be $3.4 million, nearly $1 million more than last year. The purse for the entire race weekend us up a million to $4.6.

Ticket Sales Stop, Pick Up Pace

Ticket sales for the UAW/GM Quality 500 race on Oct. 7 are “just about on pace” to sales from a year ago, mostly because last week’s terrorist attacks halted buying, said track vice president for promotions and public relations Jerry Gappens.

Ticket sales picked up late last week, and Gappens said the track hopes to have a record crowd.

“That’s good news considering what happened last week and got out of the box a little slow,” Gappens said.

Gappens said sales for Winston Pole Night are 20 percent ahead of last year’s pace, with the Little Trees 300 Busch Series race five to six percent ahead.

LMS Delivers Tickets

At least 88 people will receive free tickets to the race. Wheeler discovered there was a town called Speed in North Carolina, and that it had been hit hard by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Wheeler donated tickets to all residents of Speed, population 88.

Of course, 88 is also the number of Dale Jarrett’s Winston Cup car, so in Wheeleresque fashion, Jarrett’s sponsor, UPS, got involved. UPS deliver driver James Lunn – “We couldn’t get Dale Jarrett to drive,” Wheeler said – took the tickets from Wheeler and drove off in a “big brown truck.” They’ll be delivered by next-day air to Speed Mayor Wilbert Harrison on Wednesday.

Fireman to Be Honored

Lowe’s has been known to hold some off-the-wall stunts as part of its pre-race show in October. But the pre-race show this year will be subdued. Track executive vice president Doug Stafford called it a “Salute to the American Fireman.”

Stafford said nearly 5,000 firemen from the nearby region and from elsewhere – perhaps New York City – will be at the race.

“The purpose of brining them in is to do a patriotic salute to those men and men who have sacrificed so much for our great nation at this time of tragedy,” Stafford said.

Oct. 7, the day of the race, is also first day of National Fire Prevention Week. The track will also have a three-acre display of firefighting equipment and life-saving apparatus.

Foyt Crewman Injured

Troy Cole, a crewman for Ron Hornaday’s Winston Cup team, made a misstep and fell from the team’s transporter ramp Tuesday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. He injured his right leg but was released from the infield care center. Cole will undergo X-rays with his personal doctor.

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