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NASCAR BGN Series Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Preview: #3, Steve Park

5 November 1997

 #3 Steve Park, ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Advance
 Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex


HOMESTEAD, FL - Steve Park would like to close out his rookie season on the 
NASCAR Busch Grand National circuit with his fourth win of the season and a 
second-place finish in the series standings. 

The 30-year-old driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo trails Todd 
Bodine by 16 points for second place in the series standings heading into the 
season finale at Homestead, Fla, on Nov. 9. Winning wouldn't guarantee Park's 
runner-up spot behind repeat champion Randy laJoie, but it would put plenty 
of heat on Bodine to run in the top five.

"We've got to finish four or five spots ahead of Todd to move into second 
place, depending on where we're running," Park said. "If we can overtake Todd 
for second, that will be the third straight season I've finished second. We 
were second in '95 and '96 in the NASCAR modified standings.

"We said all year long we weren't going to worry about the points until we 
got near the end of the year and then see where we were in the standings. 
Randy kind of took care of us trying to win the points. Now we've got to 
concentrate on moving up one more spot. It's really made the last race of 
the year pretty important. We were hoping we'd have a shot at second."

Park scored his ninth straight top-10 finish in the ACDelco 200 at 
Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway on Oct. 25. The East Northport, 
N.Y. native has been the hottest driver on the circuit in the second half of 
the season. He's scored top-10 finishes in 12 of the past 13 races, and he's 
finished in the top-five in six of the last nine. Park has more points, 
top-five finishes, top-10 finishes, wins and money won than any other rookie 
in the history of the Busch standings. 

And now he's bidding for an unprecedented second-place finish in the final 
series standings. 

"I would rather go into the last race 16 points behind instead of 105 points 
behind like we were heading into Rockingham," Park said. "We're both going to 
have to race that last race. No one is going to be able to ride around. We're 
going down there with every intention of winning the race. 

"Todd's got to go down there trying to finish in the top five. If we change 
our strategy at all it would be something like we did at Rockingham after 
Todd had his problems. I got on the defensive side instead of being the 
aggressor. Once we got near the top five, we settled in and knew we had to 
finish the race and not make a mistake. We're going to go down there with 
intention of winning. We'll see how the race plays out and how we're running 
near the end of the race. Then we'll know if we've got to be on the attack or 
the defensive."

Park has been on the attack since his second victory of the season at 
Michigan in August. He put together a streak of five straight top-five 
finishes beginning with that race and notched his third win of the season at 
Richmond in September. Park has never raced at Homestead but tested there for 
two days before the season finale. 

"We took two of my favorite cars and two of my favorite motors and had an 
extensive two-day test," Park said. "I'd heard the stories about the track 
from the past two seasons, but they've completely redone it. It's like a 
brand new facility, so I don't think anyone will have an advantage. 

"We're going down there loaded with both barrels, and try to have the best 
car we can and hope we can win another race."

The Jiffy Lube Miami 300 will mark Park's final appearance in the No. 3 
ACDelco Monte Carlo. Park will compete on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit in 
'98 for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., but he's not going to soon forget his rookie 
season on the Busch circuit with crew chief Tony Eury and the ACDelco team. 

"We had some growing pains in the beginning of the year with a rookie driver, 
and we broke a couple of motors," Park said. "The driver crashed a couple of 
race cars. We came off a seventh-place finish at Daytona to have a real 
up-and-down season at the beginning of the year.

"We've been able to put together a streak of top-10s and top-fives in the 
second half of the season, and that's what a championship team is made of. If 
we could have had that type of consistency at the beginning of the season, 
maybe we could have given Randy a run for his money.

"Winning the rookie title means a lot, but it sure would be nice to finish 
second in the overall standings. Some people would be upset to finish second 
three straight years, and I really wanted to win both of those modified 
titles, but second on the Busch series as a rookie would mean a lot, and if 
we could do it next year, then we'd really have something to brag about.

"We're not going to start out thinking we can finish second on the Winston 
Cup circuit, but we didn't start this season thinking we had a shot at second 
place, either. Next year will be another learning experience, and I just hope 
I can learn as much as I did this year with the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte 
Carlo team."

By Champion Sports Group