Home Steve Park Appearances Pictures Extras News Forum FanListing

East Series ushers in old, new

On the one hand, there are drivers like Steve Park and Mike Olsen. On the other, it's kids like Austin Dillon and Craig Goess.

Park's a 2-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner who wants to win races at any level, and Olsen's a former series champion desperate to come out of retirement. Dillon's in a ride after running dirt Late Models, and Goess headed straight to the series out of Legends cars.

Welcome to the new NASCAR Camping World East Series. It's the home of the 2-page resume-holders against the kids barely out of grade school, but Park remembers when the shoe was on the other foot -- when he was a rookie driver in the Nationwide Series in 1998 competing against all-time series win leader Mark Martin.

"I look at this (Camping World) series the same way," Park said during testing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday. "There's a handful of experienced guys and then there's all these young guys that have great race teams. How else are they going to get better than by beating some of the guys with the experience -- and then getting the experience from that?

"It's great for the series to see that."

Dillon said he doesn't feel any pressure with a grandfather named Richard Childress and a black car with an italicized No. 3 on the door, reminiscent of the late Dale Earnhardt. As a teen-ager working for a 4-time series champion in Andy Santerre, Dillon just embraces the challenge as a development driver for a Cup organization.

"I've kind of gotten used to it," said Dillon, who won the An American Revolution 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in his series debut last month after his teammate was nabbed in the post-race tech line. "So far, it's been great.... I can't look at it as pressure. I've been around my grandfather so long that it's all about having fun."

Having fun brought Olsen back to the driver's seat after working with his own young driver.

With some factory support from Roush Fenway Racing, Olsen fields cars for Belgian driver Max Dumarey. They'll run the full East Series, 5 ARCA events and 2 West Series races this season.

Olsen, who wrapped up a full-time driving career last season, said he'll run both New Hampshire events in 2008 as well as the East Series event at Lime Rock Park after a brief retirement.

"I needed something different to do," Olsen said.

Park himself wasn't looking to do something different when he signed with NDS Motorsports this offseason. His Cup Series was cut short by an accident in a Nationwide Series race at Darlington in September 2001. He last competed in partial schedules in both Nationwide and Craftsman Truck equipment in 2006, but he was looking to get into something competitive when he agreed to his return to the East Series.

Asked what was in it for him in his return to one of NASCAR's feeder divisions, and not its "Big 3," Park said he wanted to win races. Period.

"If you wake up in the morning and go to a race track and think to yourself no matter what happens and no matter how the stars align you're still not surrounded by the people that can win a race -- then you're playing a game you're never going to win," Park said. "It's like plaing solitaire -- you just know you're never going win at it. It's like, 'What's the point?'"

But the challenges of driving against inexperienced drivers are much different than those of competing at stock-car racing's highest levels. With the exception of guys like Olsen or Matt Kobyluck, he's got no reference point on other drivers.

"I tell my spotter, you've got to keep me informed about who these people are, and not in a bad way. I just don't know," Park said. "There's a lot of young guys and a lot of young racers. I get up in the top-5, or top-6 or top-7 and then you catch a car and tell the spotter to remind me who he is and what his experience level is according to how I can race that person.

"I don't want to put myself in trouble, and I don't want to put them in trouble, either."

So like the rest of the veterans, he'll go about trying to show the youngsters how it's done.

"This Camping World Series is a truly devolpmental series," Park said. "You can get guys that have a lot of experience, and then you can get some young guys that were champions in Late Models at some point. So the level of experience runs from great to small."

from Green-White-Checker
Home  |  Steve Park  |  Appearances  |  News  |  Pictures  |  Extras  |  Fanlisting  |  Fan Club  |  Forum  |  Merchandise  |  GuestBook  |  Harley
© 2002-2008 Cyber Speed Design