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3

Blk3GM's Dale Earnhardt Site


Park posts 12th place finish and moves DEI team to 24th in Points
Steve Park was among the fastest in pre-race practice but had to take a provisional starting position, 39th. Although disappointed with his qualifying effort Park moved steadily through the field finishing 12th, his fouth consecutive top-fifteen finish.

August 16, 1999 Race Report -- by Tracy Schlientz, Steve Park's Official Web Site
Despite a gloomy start to this weekend's activities, Sunday was bright and sunny -- filled with hope for the Pennzoil Team. Steve clearly had a much stronger car than his provisional starting position showed. His practice times were consistently fast, and his experience here would give them the advantage. Crew Chief Paul Andrews visited victory lane here with Geoffrey Bodine in 1995, only adding more promise for a successful run at The Glen.

Patience and perseverance were the key to Park's success, and both were evident from the drop of the green flag. He quickly climbed through the pack, picking up 7 positions in the first 6 laps. When the first full course caution came out on lap 14, he had moved into 28th place. The yellow flag flew when local favorite Brett Bodine's car stopped on the track after experiencing transmission problems.

The stage was set for varying pit strategies. Several teams decided to pit early, but Steve remained on the track along with the race leaders. When racing resumed 2 laps later, he was in 23rd place.

Steve continued his forward move through the field, moving up a position before an altercation on lap 17 threatened to take him out of the race. Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner made contact, sending Skinner spinning right in front of Park. Earnhardt and John Andretti made contact trying to avoid Skinner, sending Earnhardt off course. All the cars turned around, avoiding a full course caution. More importantly, Steve was able to avoid contact with anyone, breaking into the top-20 by lap 18.

Park was in 18th place when the yellow flag came out for the 2nd time, just 2 laps later. Ernie Irvan spun in the inner loop, ended up in the gravel surrounding it. The leaders made their first round of pit stops under the caution, but lost several track positions behind those who had pitted earlier. Park restarted the race in 31st on lap 22.

The third caution came out just 6 laps later, but Steve had already broken into the top-30. Jeff Burton spun into the Styrofoam lining the track in turn 11, leaving debris scattered across the track. Park picked up 11 positions after several teams made pit stops. Racing resumed on lap 31, with Steve in 18th place. So far pit strategy was working for the Pennzoil crew instead of against them.

Only 3 laps were run under green before the yellow flag flew again, with Park gaining another spot. David Murray's car deposited oil on the track during the previous lap, forcing the 4th full course caution. A few of the drivers made stops during the caution. When racing resumed on lap 37, Steve was in the top-15 for the first time of the day.

Road racing specialist Boris Said quickly passed Steve on the restart, moving up quickly with fresher tires. Steve lost another position to Mark Martin by lap 41, but just 4 laps later Sterling Marlin was stuck in the gravel surrounding the inner loop, bringing out the 5th caution of the race.

The leaders did not pit during the caution, choosing instead to come in later under green to push back their fuel window. Contrary to oval tracks, a driver looses fewer positions under a green flag pit stop than during a yellow flag stop. Steve restarted the race on lap 48 in 18th, but moved up quickly. By the time the first of those drivers pitted on lap 53, Park was in the top-15 once again.

Steve came down pit road on lap 54, confident that it would be the team's last stop of the race. He dropped to 26th place upon returning to the track, having to wait until the drivers in front of him eventually made their stops. Rich Bickle spun in the inner loop, getting stuck in the gravel like others earlier in the race. The yellow flag flew for the sixth time of the day. The final scheduled stops were made under the caution on lap 70, and when racing resumed on lap 71 Park was once again in 15th.

Terry Labonte and Jeff Burton both passed Steve within the first few laps after the restart, and the three drivers hooked up nose to tail behind Mike Skinner for several laps. Steve moved up to 16th place on lap 29 when Jimmy Spencer got off course. Spencer was able to keep forward momentum as he slid through the gravel, and get back onto the track without the need for a full course caution. The following lap Ricky Rudd radioed that he was stuck in 2nd gear, dropping significantly off the pace. Rudd’s team discovered a small rock had the linkage jammed, however Rudd's misfortune moved Steve back into the top-15.

Caution was out again for the seventh and final time just 5 laps later. Johnny Benson got loose driving through the esses, eventually crashing into the surrounding guard rails. The Cherrios car was quickly hauled away, setting up a green, white, checkered flag finish.

With only 2 laps to go on the final restart, racing became a scramble to the front. Steve passed Jeff Burton on the restart to pick up one position going into the final lap. Two drivers found themselves off course and into the gravel during the last lap. In addition, several drivers made contact with the Styrofoam lining turn 11, causing a huge scramble for the checkered flag. Steve came through clean, finishing the race in 12th.

Park moved up an impressive 27 positions from his starting position, climbing higher through the field than any other driver. The team moves up 2 spots into 24th this week, proving once again just how strong this team is. With less than 100 points separating them from the top-20, expect a jump upward next week if the team turns a good finish.

"This place is so tough to pass on and as far back as we were starting it would have been tough to move up much higher," said Park as he celebrated with the crew. "This place is a real easy place to get over-eager and go off course. So every time you made a pass today you had to make sure not to spin or get off course because if you did that you'd end up about 30th."

"This was a tough weekend on Friday and Saturday but we made it all worthwhile on Sunday," said crew chief Paul Andrews over the radio. "This was a good finish today."

The team carries the momentum of 4 straight top-15 finishes heading into next weekend's race. Previous to this weekend's finish of 12th, Park recorded a 15th-place finish at Indianapolis, an 8th-place finish at Pocono, and a 12th place finish at New Hampshire. Winston Cup makes its return to Michigan Speedway, where Steve recorded his career best finish earlier in the season.

"I think you are starting to see some consistency and that is what racing is all about," said Park. "We aren't satisfied, but I think you are going to see better and better finishes throughout the year."

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Blk3GM's Dale Earnhardt Site was born on July 26, 1998 and is owned and maintained by Gary Harris.  This site is a tribute to "NASCAR's Greatest Driver" and his up and coming son.  We are not affiliated with any official Team, Sponsors, Media Group or NASCAR.  This site is solely for entertainment purposes.  Information and statistic's on this site have been collected from various NASCAR related sites on the internet, from Winston Cup Scene, Newspapers, Television and our personal experience at Winston Cup and Busch Grand National races.  All statistics are believed to be accurate at the time they are updated but cannot be guaranteed.
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