Home Steve Park Appearances Pictures Extras News Forum FanListing

Park ousted from Orleans truck ride

Veteran driver's February victory at Fontana not enough to keep job


When Steve Park won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in February for Las Vegas-based Orleans Racing, it seemed like the veteran would enjoy the comeback season he has sought for three years.

But the popular 38-year-old driver from Long Island, N.Y., will have to find another ride to continue his quest. Park was released Monday by the Orleans team, owned by Las Vegas casino executive Michael Gaughan.

"Steve's a great competitor and with so many terrific rides available, we wanted to let him explore his options for 2006 before the end of the season," Gaughan said in a prepared statement.

Park could not be reached for comment.

Brendan Gaughan, who has managed the team this year since returning to the truck series after a year in the Nextel Cup series, will drive the team's No. 77 Dodge in this week's truck race at Martinsville, Va. He said the team will not operate the No. 62 truck for the rest of the year, but does not plan to layoff any employees.

Gaughan said the team has funding to field a truck for him next year, but it is uncertain whether Orleans Racing can operate as a two-truck team. Dodge, one of its major sponsors, has cut back its financial support of truck teams, and Gaughan said that was a factor in releasing Park.

Park was picked up by Orleans Racing early last year when Gaughan moved up to Nextel Cup after winning six truck races and nearly taking the series points title in 2003.

When Gaughan's contract was not renewed by Penske-Jasper Racing after last season, he returned to his family's truck team with plans to drive a part-time schedule with sponsorship from Jasper Engines and Transmissions.

"I know (Park) can win more," Gaughan said. "He would have won three or four more this summer had he not had such God-awful luck."

The team gave Park an opportunity no other major NASCAR team was willing to do. Entering this year, Park's last NASCAR victory came in 2001 when he won the first race after Dale Earnhardt died in an accident at Daytona. Park was driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the time.

Seven months later, Park sustained a head injury when he crashed hard in a NASCAR Busch Series race. Most in the sport were not convinced he had fully recovered, but the skeptics were quieted in the second truck race of this year when Park won at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

After finishing 10th in points last season, Park's victory at California was among the most emotional the series has seen. He became one of only 10 drivers (at the time) to win in each of NASCAR's national touring series.

In 18 races since, however, Park produced only one more top-five finish and three more top-10 showings.

Gaughan hasn't done much better, but is 18th in the driver standings, one spot behind Park despite having competed in two fewer races.
Home  |  Steve Park  |  Appearances  |  News  |  Pictures  |  Extras  |  Fanlisting  |  Fan Club  |  Forum  |  Merchandise  |  GuestBook  |  Harley
© 2002-2004 Cyber Speed Design