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NASCAR BGN Series Dura-Lube 200 Preview: #3, Steve Park

27 August 1997

 #3 Steve Park, ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Dura-Lube 200 Presented by Trak Auto Advance
 Darlington Raceway


DARLINGTON, SC - Although NASCAR Busch Grand National newcomer Steve Park has 
compiled some impressive statistics in his first season on the circuit, the 
driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Monte Carlo has seven more chances to continue 
rewriting the rookie record book in '97.

So far Park shares or holds these rookie records:
 - Most wins (two, tied with Dennis Setzer)
 - Most points (2,933)
 - Most money ($340,411)
 - Most top-five finishes (eight)

Other records are within his reach. No rookie has finished higher than sixth 
in the final Busch standings. Park is currently third, 284 points behind 
second-place Todd Bodine and 414 points behind leader and defending series 
champion Randy LaJoie.

Kenny Wallace holds the rookie record for top-10 finishes with 16 in 1989. 
Park has 14 top-10 finishes in 23 starts (60.9 percent) and would need three 
more to break that record.

Park has been the highest finishing rookie in 16 of 23 races this season, and 
he's running away from the competition in the Busch Series rookie of the 
year race. Park leads second-place Matt Kenseth by 809 points (2,337-1,528).

The 29-year-old native of East Northport, N.Y., won races this season at 
Nashville and Michigan. Following his win at Nashville in April, he reeled 
off back-to-back runner-up finishes at Talladega and Loudon and that's also 
a rookie record for best finishes in a three-race span. After his win at 
Michigan on Aug. 16, Park followed up with another second-place run last 
week at Bristol.

Heading to Darlington Raceway for Saturday's Dura-Lube 200 presented by 
Trak Auto, Park will try to continue beefing up his rookie resume. With 
veteran crew chief Tony Eury calling the shots, the ACDelco team will be one 
of the favorites in Saturday's 200-miler at the treacherous 1.366-mile 
egg-shaped oval.

"I'm really looking forward to going back to Darlington," Park said. "We had 
a fuel system problem the last time we were there. We qualified in the 
top-25, and I was just starting to get used to the track when the car quit.

"We thought we got robbed of maybe a top-15 finish there. Maybe we can have 
some better luck and get a better finish this time."

Park and Jimmy Spencer have been part of the winning 1-2 ticket in the last 
two Busch Series races. Park beat Spencer two weeks ago at Michigan, and 
Spencer came back to beat Park by just 139 thousandths of a second last 
Friday night at Bristol.

"Those last laps were pretty scary," Park said. "We were about 110 percent. 
If Jimmy slipped up, we had to be right there to make a move on him. We 
touched and we banged a little bit, but it was all clean.

"My hat's off to Jimmy. He's a tough racer, and did what he had to do to win. 
We were just a second-place car. It was our turn last week and Jimmy's turn 
this week. We're just happy to get to second. We struggled from 16th and had 
a bad pit stop. We got fired up that last pit stop and the team got us right 
back out where we needed to be. Jimmy had a fast car, and we just couldn't 
get by him."

The runner-up finish was Park's third of the season. He could equal or even 
better his 1-2-2 streak of finishes after his first win at Nashville with a 
first or second-place finish at Darlington.

"We won't go to Darlington trying to finish second, that's for sure," Park 
said. "At the same time, running second at Darlington would be quite an 
accomplishment. Three straight races of first, second and second doesn't 
sound too shabby, but first, second and first sound even better.

"We keep learning more and more about the car every race, and we've really 
learned a lot the last couple of weeks. It's been great racing Jimmy Spencer 
for the win. He's a great competitor, and if you beat him, you've beat one of 
the best."

Although Park's top-five record and his quest for the most top-10s by a Busch 
Series rookie is important, his No. 1 goal is winning. There's even a little 
bonus from his boss following a victory.

"I hope we can win some more races," Park said. "I won't get greedy. One more 
would be fine and that would give us the most wins by a Busch rookie.

"But we've got seven more chances, so maybe we can win more than one. Dale 
(Earnhardt) really likes it when we win, and he takes us out to lunch when we 
win races. We all like getting those free lunches, so maybe we can win some 
more races before the year's out. We've got seven more chances. I'd really 
like to get a pole, but we'll trade those poles for wins or top-fives."

By Champion Sports Group