Park gears up for truck racing
By Shannon Rose
Sentinel Staff Writer
February 13, 2004
DAYTONA BEACH -- Lessons learned on the racetrack have helped Steve Park make
the transition from a one-time budding NASCAR Winston Cup star into a new start
in the Craftsman Truck Series.
"You always look to the future, but the main thing now is that it's not a step
back," Park said. "I hate for people to look at that. This is a step forward to
me. To be involved in racing like I have been since I was 10 years old -- I'm
just used to running good and winning races. I really just want to get back to
When Park starts on the 11th row for tonight's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at
Daytona International Speedway, it will be without any chip on his shoulder or
Park's career has had its ups and downs. He endured two major recoveries from
racing accidents. He came back stronger from the first one in 1998. The second
one, in 2001, was the beginning of the end of his tenure with Dale Earnhardt
Inc., which fired him last May.
While getting to the Winston Cup was his racing dream, Park isn't bitter about
leaving the series. He looks at is as an opportunity to go back to doing what
always mattered the most -- winning.
"It's not like I need to prove something because we've pretty much won races
from Busch right on up to Nextel Cup," Park said. "I'd rather win races and be
in a position to run good than I would be to run good and finish 15th. It's a
situation where it's hard to get out of bed on Sunday mornings when you know
that if all the stars line up, you know that your best effort is going to be a
15th-place effort. That's not why we all race."
Park spent six years in the "majors," with two wins and a career-best 15th-place
finish in the points race in 1999. But after a head injury in 2001, Park's
Now, he hopes to regain his consistency. He is with a team that is capable of
winning races every week. The No. 62 Dodge, owned by Michael Gaughan, won six
races last season.
Park replaced Brendan Gaughan, who finished fourth in the Truck Series last
year. Gaughan is now driving for Penske Racing in Nextel Cup.
Park acknowledged that there is a transition period in running the trucks -- he
has run four races -- but he certainly doesn't feel like a rookie.
"We need time to jell, but we have a great race team," Park said.