Thirteen years ago, Steve Park won his first NASCAR Camping World Series East race at Nazareth Speedway and was being lured away to NASCAR's top level of racing by the legendary Dale Earnhardt.
After that, Park went on to win in all three of the top series of NASCAR. Now, in 2009, he is back in the East Series and has been running up front there again.
On Saturday night, Park rallied in the final 25 laps of the Edge Hotel 150 at Adirondack International Speedway NY) to earn his first series win in 13 years and his first win since 2005 when he won at California Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series. It was a popular win among the crowd and with all of the teams.
"They gave me a run for my money. When they told me it was ten to go I let it hang out a little bit," said Park. "These guys build good race cars and bring a good racecar to the track week-in and week-out. With all this young talent in this series it's amazing just getting a chance to run with these guys and see how hard they run. I've been racing a long time and from the competition in the Sprint Cup to the short tracks here at Adirondack, NASCAR has got a lot of talent in all of the series. We're having a good time."
Park quietly made his way to the front and put himself in position to get the lead at the final restart of the night at lap 141. Jody Lavender and Park took the green side-by-side, but it was all Park coming out of turn one and two.
"I knew I couldn't run wide open for the first 75 laps and the last 75 laps. In the race we were good, but I was just trying to be patient. There's usually a late-race caution and you need tires and a car you can race with and sure enough there was. We had the car and the tires to do it after we got that caution because we didn't run it hard in the first 75. Jody ran me hard for a couple of laps. He's an excellent driver and he ran me clean."
Park cruised to the checkers and beat rookie sensation Ryan Truex by .619 seconds. Truex's second place finish retained the point lead for the New Jersey based driver.
"I'm excited. Leading points is pretty awesome," said Truex. "I'm so fortunate to be in such good racecars at such a young age. I wanted to win here tonight, but there's nobody I would want to lose to more than Steve Park. I mean, hey, he was a Cup driver. He's still really good."
Park started the race in seventh, but really wasn't a factor in the race until the final 25 laps when he challenged Truex and early race leader Eddie MacDonald for second in a three-wide battle. Park got out of it when they approached lapped traffic, but ducked low to bring it three wide again at lap 135. Park emerged from the battle in second place and immediately set his sights on then-leader Jody Lavender.
Park closed up the distance and challenged Lavender on the inside at lap 139, but couldn't quite make the pass. He knew he would have his shot, however, when caution flew at lap 141 for the spinning car of Dustin Delaney.
"I was a little worried about being on the outside for the restart," said Park. "We were able to get the Waste Management Chevrolet out front and just cruise those last couple of laps. This is a heck of a series. You've got Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing here and Andy Santerre's team. I'm proud to win a race in the Camping World East Series. If you win a race here you're doing something."
Lavender finished third followed by Jesus Hernandez and Matt Kobyluck. Eddie MacDonald, who dominated the first half of the race by leading 101 laps, finished 10th. MacDonald also earned his first career Coors Light Pole Award by setting fast time earlier in the day in qualifying.
The NASCAR Camping World Series East takes two weeks off before heading to Lime Rock Park for the Mohegan Sun 200 on August 15th. Only three races remain to the season Truex leading the points by 26 over Jody Lavender.
NASCAR Camping World Series East-The Edge Hotel 150 pres. by Casella Waste Systems
At Adirondack International Speedway
Lap length: 0.5 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (7) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150 laps, 80.000 mph, $8,000.
2. (9) Ryan Truex, Mayetta, N.J., Toyota, 150, $4,625.
3. (11) Jody Lavender, Hartsville, S.C., Chevrolet, 150, $3,700.
4. (10) Jesus Hernandez, Fresno, Calif., Dodge, 150, $3,000.
5. (3) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $2,600.
6. (16) Alan Tardiff, Lyman, Maine, Chevrolet, 150, $3,900.
7. (8) Ty Dillon, Lewisville, N.C., Chevrolet, 150, $1,700.
8. (2) Brett Moffitt, Grimes, Iowa, Chevrolet, 150, $2,100.
9. (17) John Salemi, Nashua, N.H., Chevrolet, 150, $2,025.
10. (1) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Chevrolet, 150, $3,975.
11. (5) Dustin Delaney, Mayfield, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150, $2,475.
12. (13) Jonathan Smith, Beacon Falls, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,875.
13. (12) Tommy Cloce, Canton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150, $1,325.
14. (4) Ryan Duff, Hazard, KY., Chevrolet, 150, $1,775.
15. (18) Jason Holehouse, Toronto, Ontario, Toyota, 150, $1,230.
16. (14) Max Gresham, Griffin, Ga., Toyota, 149, $1,700.
17. (15) Matt Kurzejewski, Mansfield, Pa., Dodge, 149, $1,670.
18. (19) Levi Arthur, Boonville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 148, $1,150.
19. (20) Scott Bouley, Middlebury, Conn., Chevrolet, 146, $1,130.
20. (6) Alex Kennedy, Aztec, N.M., Chevrolet, 111, vibration, $1,615.
21. (21) Todd Peck, Glenville, Pa., Chevrolet, 98, vibration, $1,100.
Time of Race: 0 hours 56 minutes 15 seconds
Margin of Victory: .619 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: E.MacDonald (107.533 mph, 16.739 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 23 laps.
Lead Changes: 6 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: E. MacDonald 1-57; M. Kobyluck 58-61; E. MacDonald 62-92; B. Moffitt 93; E. MacDonald 94-106; J. Lavender 107-145; S. Park 146-150.
Standings: 1. R. Truex, 1227; 2. J. Lavender, 1201; 3. E. MacDonald, 1192; 4. M. Kobyluck, 1167; 5. S. Park, 1149; 6. B. Moffitt, 1127; 7. A. Tardiff, 1009; 8. D. Delaney, 1005; 9. R. Duff, 962; 10. A. Kennedy, 946.