Park Hopes Atlanta Test Speed Carries Over to Qualifying
3 March 1998Contact: Drew Brown, Pennzoil Racing
(704) 895-3651 or firstname.lastname@example.org
#1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo driver Steve Park feels Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the best opportunity for his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team to post a top qualifying and race performance. A test session immediately after Daytona saw Park as one of the fastest cars at AMS. Last year, Park finished 15th in the season-ending race and returns to the high-speed track with the confidence gained during that race. Last week Park failed to make the field at Las Vegas.
"No doubt that was a tough weekend for all of us. Our primary car was crashed in Rockingham so we took the back-up car to Las Vegas where we didn't test. We knew it was going to be a rough weekend, but we didn't know it was going to be that rough. We knew (not making a race) might happen, but it isn't going to get us down. The measure of a man, and I guess you could say a race team as well, is how fast he can get up off the deck after he's been knocked down. We were knocked down at Las Vegas and now we are going to get up off the deck in Atlanta."
Pressure of Rookie Season:
"I think this is a high pressure situation. Forget driving for Earnhardt. There is pressure competing in any car here. The pressure I put on myself is always greater than the pressure others put on me. Even if people pat you on the back for finishing 15th, I'm the kind of person that says that wasn't good enough and want to run better. The bottom line in this sport is winning races. That is what you have to set out to do and you can't relax until you get to victory lane."
Atlanta Motor Speedway:
"We had a great test the Tuesday and Wednesday after we ran the Daytona 500. We took the same car to Atlanta that we finished 15th with last year. With the new rule changes on the smaller rear spoiler and front valence we had to change the shock combinations. But, we found a combination that was really good and allowed me to stay in the throttle almost the whole way around the track. I don't know if we ever changed shocks while we were there.
It was important for us to test at Atlanta because of the new rules. Since we are a new team and don't have provisonals it's extra important for us to be fast there. If we aren't fast in qualifying then we go home so that is a lot of incentive. I really like Atlanta because it's fast. If you get the car just right you can pass a lot of cars."
Second Winston Cup Race At Atlanta
"I think running the race last year allowed me to be a lot more comfortable in the car this time. I know this time I'm going to have a lot more confidence qualifying and racing in the race than I did last year. All of this comes down to having more experience on the track and that lets me concentrates not so much on learning the track as it does on allowing me to tune on the car more."
"I think NASCAR made a good call because it slows the cars down without taking the balance out of the car's handling. The car seems to have lost overall grip, but it didn't pick up a push or a loose feeling. I think the speeds will be about five miles-an-hour slower than last year's speeds."