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Steve Park Post Race Report - Atlanta

Sporting a special “Luck O’ The Irish” Harris Trucking paint scheme, the HT Motorsports team was looking for a way to turn their season around at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Little did they know they would come tantalizingly close to accomplishing their goal only to come up short…by about 100 yards. A strong run by new driver Steve Park evaporated over the waning laps and ended up a wreck sitting on pit road coming to the checkered flag. The team was credited with a 25th place finish in the John Deere 200 event.

After qualifying 20th just prior to the race, Steve Park put the brand new No. 59 Harris Trucking Ford F-150 through its paces in the opening laps. He lost positions, but carefully inserted himself back in the inside line and began gaining on them immediately. Just prior to the first pit stop, Park was running in the 17th spot.

On lap 32 during a yellow flag stop, crew chief Kevin Cram called for a four tire change and a wedge adjustment to tighten the chassis. Park had reported that the truck was a bit on the loose side.

Park restarted in 19th place, but shot up the leaderboard to 14th in just 12 laps of green flag racing. The truck’s overall handling had improved markedly and the results were showing on the track. Park moved into the top-10 running order for the first time all night on lap 55 of the 130-lap event.

Three laps later the second caution flag waved for a multi-truck accident as Park slipped the No. 59 Harris Trucking Dodge into eighth place. He asked for four tires and no changes on the ensuing pit stop and restarted 12th just as the teams took the halfway flag.

He was back to 10th by lap 84, but reported that the truck was getting looser and looser in the corners. A lap 92 caution allowed the team another chance to adjust the wedge and add tires for the final sprint to the checkered.

If only the truck would have cooperated. Park restarted in 15th place on lap 97, but began loosing positions, unable to keep the truck down on the white line in the corners. Park and Cram traded possible causes over the radio, but nothing they had done to the truck seemed to add up to such a tight condition. Park slipped to 21st before the final caution of the night set up yet another Green/White/Checkered flag finish for the Craftsman Truck Series.

Park was heading for a 20th place finish in the event when the caution waved on the white flag lap coming out of the fourth turn for a wreck started by rookie driver Eric Almirola in the No. 75 Spears entry. Several trucks were collected and as Park slowed to pass the wrecked trucks, he was hit from behind by the No. 1 truck, sending him through the grass and onto pit road with a lot of damaged sheet metal.

“What was that?,” Park asked keying the mike. The rest of the HT Motorsports crew looked on in disbelief from their pit stall. The team then headed down to pit road to check on Park and the state of the truck they had worked so hard on all night. In the end, the team was credited with a 25th place finish…but the Irish Luck vanished just seconds from a clean finish.

The team will be happy to have a one-week break to sort out their issues, and the next event on the schedule is on their home turf—Martinsville Speedway.
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