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Park to Start Third at Monster Mile

Source: Orleans Racing
Kimberly Meesters
Date: 06/04/2004

DOVER, Del., June 3, 2004 – Steve Park posted his best NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying effort since joining Orleans Racing in January with a third-place starting position for the MBNA America 200 at Dover International Speedway June 4.

Park, driver of the No. 62 Orleans Dodge, posted a fast lap of 23.628 seconds, 152.362 mph around the 1-mile oval known as the Monster Mile. Carl Edwards earned the pole with a lap of 23.546, 152.892, while Jack Sprague qualified second at 23.577, 152.691.

“The track got pretty hot when we went out to qualify,” Park said. “I slipped around a little bit. Afterward I said, ‘If someone runs faster than that, they deserve it.’ Obviously Carl and Jack did. My hat is off to them.

“Being able to start up front with Carl Edwards and Jack Sprague and guys who run well and have experience is going to be great. I think my best qualifying effort so far was 22nd. That makes you start around guys who don’t have as much experience as some of the front runners do. I am a true believer in you make your own luck. We have had some bad luck, but we have put ourselves in a position to have bad luck. Being able to start up front, hopefully it will give us the opportunity to stay there and stay out of some of the messes we would have seen in the back of the field.”

Park has one career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole, which he earned in 1997 at Watkins Glen. In his five starts with Orleans Racing, Park’s previous best start was 22nd at Daytona and Martinsville. He started fourth at Mansfield when the field was set by points after qualifying was rained out.

“I beat my best qualifying effort in the Orleans Dodge by almost 20 spots,” Park said. “I really want to thank Dodge for their support. We struggled in qualifying at the beginning of the year. The guys on the team and the engineers at Dodge really worked hard to make our Dodge a better truck in qualifying. We are taking baby steps. We are third today. At least we are in the top five. We have something to build on from there.

“Charlie Wilson is our interim crew chief, and he is a great guy. He has been with Orleans Racing for a long time running the NASCAR West Series team. He is a pleasure to work with. He has experience, and he is great for the race team right now. We are aggressively looking for a new crew chief. Charlie is doing a great job, but he is burning the candle at both ends with the West team and the Truck team. We have to find somebody or we have to find a way to relieve him a little. Everyone on this team has worked tirelessly this week to make this truck qualify better. It obviously worked.”

The MBNA America 200 starts at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on SPEED and MRN.
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