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NASCAR BGN Series Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 Preview: #3, Steve Park

14 October 1997

 #3 Steve Park, ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 Advance
 California Speedway

FONTANA, CA - NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year Steve Park continues to 
reel in the competition on the Grand National circuit, but the driver of the 
No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo might be running out of time. 

Park finished sixth in his most recent outing on Oct. 4 at Charlotte Motor 
speedway in the All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300, and that broke his string of 
five straight top-five finishes. But the 30-year-old newcomer from East 
Northport, N.Y., has scored seven straight top-10 finishes in the Dale 
Earnhardt, Inc., Monte Carlo. He's also scored 10 top-10 finishes in the 
past 11 races. 

With veteran crew chief Tony Eury calling the shots, Park and the ACDelco 
team have been steadily closing the gap on the leaders. With only three races 
remaining, there may not be enough time to overtake defending series champion 
Randy LaJoie and runner-up Todd Bodine at the head of the Busch Series 
standings, but Park isn't giving up. 

The Busch newcomer, who will drive for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., on the NASCAR 
Winston Cup circuit in 1998, already has rewritten the Busch rookie record 
books this season. Park has ore top-five finishes (11), more top 10s (18), 
won more money ($423,659) and won more races (three) than any other rookie 
drive in Busch history. 

He's been the top finishing rookie in 19 of 27 races, and he's third in the 
series standings after already accumulating more points (3,633) than any 
other Busch rookie in the history of the series. 

Park trails LaJoie by 341 points and is 95 points behind Bodine heading to 
California Speedway for the Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 on Oct. 19. 

Catching LaJoie may be a tall order, although Park has averaged gaining 25 
points on the defending series champion in the past six races. Park has 
gained an average of 41 points per race on Bodine in the past six events. If 
Park can continue that pace, he could easily be within striking distance of 
second by the time the Busch Series reaches Homestead, Fla., for the finale 
on Nov. 9. 

The first order of business will be learning his way around Roger Penske's 
new California Speedway. Park won earlier this season on Penske's two-mile 
Michigan Speedway and hopes he'll be able to score his fourth victory of 1997 
at Penske's sister track.

"I've hard nothing but good things about California Speedway," Park said. 
"Everybody is new at California, but I think with the adaptability I've had 
all year long, if we can adapt to the new track quicker than everybody else, 
it might give us a little advantage.

"I think we have a chance to win all of these last races. That's the 
confidence I have in the team. The way the last half of the year has been 
going, we're caught up back at the shop and we've got some great cars ready 
to go. It's just a matter of getting tuned in."

Park has been trying to get tuned in to his Winston Cup car recently and has 
been successful in qualifying for only two of five events. Instead of getting 
frustrated, Park has continued to focus on the task at hand for the remaining 
Busch races. 

"You can be on top of the world one day and down in the dumps crying, the 
next in this sport," Park said. "It's been a tough year, but it's been a 
great year.

"The Busch Series has really helped me, especially since I've been trying to 
do this Winston Cup stuff. Just when you think you can't drive or something is
wrong with you, you go out and run good in the Busch car and that really  
helps your confidence. I've got a lot of confidence in my Busch team, and 
I've got a lot of confidence in my Winston Cup team. 

"Once we get that new shop opened and get a little more organized, we'll be 
better prepared to go to some of these races. We're going to do the same 
thing we did in the Busch Series. We're going to be happy qualifying for all 
the races and becoming a contender and developing into a top-10 team and then 
a top five and then go on and win some races and run for that rookie of the 

Park run away with the rookie of the year title in the Busch Series, and he 
realizes it won't be that easy next season on NASCAR's major league circuit. 
But that's months away, and right now, Park says it's not too late to beat 
veterans LaJoie and Bodine. 

Two of the last three tracks will be totally new to Park, but he ran earlier 
this season at Rockingham and is convinced he can improve on his 32nd place 
finish there. 

"I think Rockingham owes me one," Park said. "We went there at the beginning 
of the year, and I really liked that track. We ended up crashing in the first 
20 laps of the race. We had a good race car, but we got a broken oil line and 
we crashed.

"We've got an ACDelco-sponsored race coming up there, so we'll go back with 
this ACDelco Monte Carlo and hopefully win that race. 

"They've changed Homestead all around, and I think we're going to go down 
there and test. It's the last race of the year, and we don't want to find 
ourselves in the position of being second in the points with a chance of 
winning the championship going to a track that I've never been to before, 
especially with the change in configuration.

"The ultimate goal is to win it all, but if we can't do that, second wouldn't 
be too bad for a rookie team."

By Champion Sports Group