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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Hanes 500 Report: #40, Steve Park

1 October 1997

 #40 Steve Park, Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Hanes 500 Race Report
 Martinsville Speedway
 September 29, 1997
                Runs as high as 6th before engine overheats     

MARTINSVILLE, VA - Steve Park, a fill-in driver this weekend for an absent
Robby Gordon, on Sunday showed why he was so highly sought by Dale Earnhardt
to be his driver for next season. Park posted some of the fastest laps of the
42-driver field en route to driving the No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet from his
28th starting spot to as high as sixth during Sunday's Hanes 500 at the
0.526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. 

Unfortunately, while Park was making his moves to the front, bumping and
banging like what is required at the legendary track, the front grill (air
intake) on the Coors Light Chevrolet received some damage. It was bent enough 
to restrict air flow into the engine to help cool it effectively. As a 
result, the engine overheated and Park had to park it.

He had moved from 28th to 17th in just 54 laps. When a caution came out on lap
58, Park headed to the pits and the team opted to take just two right-side
tires in hopes of gaining valuable track position. The two-tire stop resulted
in Park re-emerging to the track in the No. 6 position and looking "totally
awesome" as crew chief Mike Hillman put it.

Park was an intimidating figure - just like his seven-time Winston Cup Champ
boss Earnhardt, for whom the 30-year-old driver will drive a full-time
schedule next year. When sheet metal was dangling to the point of concern near
the left-front tire housing, Park was told to pit to make a quick repair to
clear the area during a lap-72 caution period. He emerged 37th but was able to
again grind his way back up to the 14th spot when the overheating caused the
engine to fail. Park finished 41st. Jeff Burton won the event. Earnhardt
finished second. 

"The Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo ran great today." Park said.  "We got
up into the top 10 and were just biding our time. I got bumped and air flow in
the nose area got cut off a bit. It was running hotter and hotter and with no
caution, we had to hope the motor would stay together. We didn't get the
caution when we had hoped and we lost the motor. The guys put together a great
package for me this weekend and I got a lot of valuable Winston Cup seat time
that should pay off next season."

With the mutual and permanent split today between Team SABCO and driver Robby
Gordon, Elliott Sadler, 22, was named to drive the Coors Light car during this
weekend's event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sadler, a NASCAR Grand
National Series regular, will be in action tomorrow (Wednesday) for Pole Day
qualifying which is set to go under the lights at 7 p.m. EDT. After the field
is set over Wednesday and Thursday, teams will make two final practices on
Saturday before Sunday's 1 p.m. EDT start of the UAW-GM Quality 500 on the
1.5-mile track.

By Team SABCO Public Relations