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Steve Park Leads Seventeen Laps Of U.S. Cellular 200, Finishes Eighth

Steve Park enjoyed a competitive day at Iowa Speedway, site of Sunday's U.S. Cellular 200 for NASCAR's Camping World Series. After qualifying sixth fastest, he put the No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet at the front of the field for seventeen laps during the middle portion of the race, and only gave up the lead to make an additional pit stop for gas. He then charged back through the field to finish eighth.

Park, a native of E. Northport, N.Y. but now living in North Carolina, quickly showed that the NDS Motorsports-prepared car was going to be up front all weekend when he posted the seventh-fastest practice time on Saturday. He backed that up with a sixth-best qualifying time in Sunday's time trials on the 7/8-mile superspeedway.

"The track is great," Park said. "It's a phenomenal track to race on, and they did a great job making a track that's not a cookie-cutter mile-and-a-half track like we've seen. It's a great track to race on with three or four grooves."

During the first half of Sunday's race, Park was never far from the front of the field. He was fourth when caution came out on lap 74 and took over the race lead when those running ahead of him pitted. When the race resumed, Park held the lead until a lap 93 caution allowed him to come to pit road himself and take on tires and fuel. When the race resumed, he raced back to the top ten and was running ninth when another caution came at lap 123. He had to pit one more time for gas.

"We had to pit again because we didn't get as good fuel mileage as some of the other guys did," he said after the race. "Some guys pitted for the last time at lap 101 and went the rest of the way. We had to stop again after that."

The race ended with a 42-lap green flag run and Park made the most of that, coming from twentieth at the restart to finish eighth.

"I was working real hard those last 25-30 laps," he explained. "We had been trying to conserve our tires up to that point, and then they came on the radio and told me to let it all hang out. Some of the lapped cars were good, some of them weren't, but I just got on Austin Dillon's back bumper to race him. Our cars were equally matched and being behind him induced an aero push that I didn't have when I was in clean air. I was trying to work around him to get in clean air, and I was better than him in a couple parts of the track and he was better than me in a couple places, so we stayed neutral. I used everything I had trying to get around him."

After two Camping World East Series races, Park is fifth in the season points with a pair of top-ten finishes.

"It feels great to run up front in the Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet," he said. "I've felt great for the last couple years, and I know in my heart that I can win races. To lead laps and run as well as we did today, in this series with all the Cup influence in it these days, is a credit to the whole team.

"I think we had a car that could have won the race and wound up seventh or eighth," Park continued. "But we'll lick our wounds and look forward to going to South Boston."

South Boston Speedway, a historic 4/10-mile track in southern Virginia, hosts the next East Series race on Saturday, May 31.

from EastSeries.com

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