Steve Park, No. 62 Dodge Pre-Race Notes: Kroger 250
PRE-RACE NOTES: The team’s primary Dodge Ram for Martinsville is a new truck. The only track time it has had was March 30 at a test at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 3/8-mile oval. Park completed 296 laps at the test. The team calls it truck number 12 because they do not name a truck until it has won a race.
Park has completed 5,178 laps of competition in 11 starts at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. His best finish was 11th in October of 2000. He also has numerous starts at the track in modifieds. This will be his first Martinsville start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
This will be the fourth start for Orleans Racing at Martinsville and the 60th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start for the team.
Park is 19th in points after two races. He finished 27th in Daytona after an accident sent the team behind the wall for repairs. Park returned to the track with 25 laps remaining and moved from 35th to 27th. He gained 27 points in the final 25 laps. Park showed strong potential at Atlanta moving from 27th to fifth but was penalized on a pit stop and had to go to the rear of the longest line. He rallied back to seventh with two laps to go when a truck hit the wall and clipped him. He finished 12th moving him from 27th to 19th in the points.
Park will sign autographs at the Dodge Merchandise trailer near the credential office Friday, April 16 from noon to 1 p.m. and Saturday, April 17 from 9-10 a.m.
STEVE PARK: Thoughts on Martinsville Speedway: “I enjoy it. I started racing there in a modified car and then raced there in a Cup car numerous times. It is a good racetrack with a lot of action. It is a typical half mile. It is like two drag strips connected by two u-turns. It provides really good racing for trucks, cars, modifieds, late models and everything that races there. It is like the grass roots of NASCAR. I think maybe the bump and run became famous at Martinsville Speedway.”
About experience at Martinsville before Cup: “I have no wins at Martinsville. I have a good handful of starts in the modified cars. I started going there in the 80s. I went there with my dad a lot. It is one of those places where you wanted to win in the modified car. I don’t know if they still do this but back in the modified days they gave you a grandfather clock if you won a race at Martinsville. That was the famous thing for us in a modified car. If you won, the trophy was a grandfather clock. My mother has always wanted a grandfather clock. I never wanted to buy her one; I wanted to win her one at Martinsville. If I win Martinsville in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and we don’t get a grandfather clock, I’ll have to buy my mother one.”
About testing at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to prepare for Martinsville: “We built a new truck for Martinsville. The Orleans Racing team had a lot of good notes from the Bullring. Even though they aren’t the same tracks you can go off the notes they had in the past. They were never really happy with their setup at Martinsville. So we started with that setup and worked from there. We feel like we improved on it. Even though the Bullring is not Martinsville, we ran the racetrack like it was Martinsville. I was able to adjust my line to fit the configuration. They are both bullrings, but the Las Vegas Bullring doesn’t drive anything like Martinsville. Using the Martinsville line makes our test more valid. We specifically tried to simulate how we would be off the corner. The truck drove great. The guys did a great job. It shows the experience the team has at building great race trucks.”
What have you done in the last month with your time off? “We had the opportunity to test in Las Vegas. Then I spent a couple of days in Las Vegas at the shop. It benefits me as much as it does the crew. I enjoy being in Las Vegas. I enjoy working on the truck. I enjoy spending time with the guys. I want to be a part of this team. That is what a team is. I’m not just the driver; I am a team member. I was at the gym with the guys at 6 o’clock this morning. I think it goes a long way. It shows them how committed I am to being a part of a good organization. We had a break around Easter. It was nice to spend some time around my family, go to church, have Easter dinner and let mom spoil me. It is such a change for me because I’m used to being on the go all of the time. We have always had Easter off, but now I have more time off before and after the holiday. It allows me to catch up with friends and family. Harley (Park’s dog) looks at me kind of weird. Usually on Thursdays he gets uptight because he knows I’m leaving. He wants to know if I’m bringing him or not. When he learns that not only am I not bringing, him but I’m not leaving then he is kind of curious. He is getting used to having me around.”