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Broken Suspension Part Takes Steve Park Out Of NHMS Top-Five

Steve Park appeared to be well on his way to a top-five finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the site of Friday's NASCAR Camping World East Series race. He had started up front, stayed up front, and used the same pit strategy as the car that wound up winning the race. With all the ingredients for a successful day at the track falling into place, only a broken sway bar kept him from finishing the race at the front of the field. Repairs to the sway bar cost the driver of the No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet nine laps in the pits, forcing him to finish 28th.

Park, an East Northport, New York native now living in Mooresville, North Carolina, returned to the site of many of his successes, including a Busch North Series - the predecessor of the Camping World East Series - race win at NHMS in 1996. Track time was completely washed away on Thursday due to rain, and with qualifying cancelled, the field was set by points standings. This put Park on the inside of the second row for the start of Friday evening's race.

Settling into third in the race's opening laps, Park gave up that track position to make a fuel stop under a lap 22 caution. Restarting deep in the field, he charged back into the top five as the race crossed the halfway point.

A lap 82 caution saw Park give up that track position once again as he came down pit road a second time for new right-side tires. After restarting outside the top twenty, Park started on another charge to get back to the front. But just a few laps after going green, Park felt the handling of his car change for the worse. He ducked onto pit road for a diagnosis.

"Something broke in the front end, and I thought it was the sway bar," he said. "Sure enough, that's what it was. We had to go on pit road, put the hood up and make repairs. That ruined a good top-five finish for us. I don't think we had a car to win, but I definitely think we could have finished in the top five."

Park returned to the race after repairs were completed, but he was now down laps and out of contention. He was 28th at the finish.

"We had good strategy and that kept us near the front," he said. "We wanted to stay with that strategy, but you can't help it when something breaks. All you can do is fix it and salvage the best finish you can out of it. We wound up nine laps down, and that's unfortunate because that hurt us in the points."

Now eighth in Camping World East Series points, Park looks to rebound at the next race which takes place in two weeks, July 12, at Thompson International Speedway in northeast Connecticut.

from EastSeries.com

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