Steve Parks Runs With the Big Trucks

Steve Park looked to improve on his second race this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night. The No. 41 Van Dyk Baler Bollegraaf Lubo USA Toyota Tundra found trouble on lap 29, and relegated Park to a 25th-place finish.
 
The weekend started Thursday with two practice sessions. The Eddie Sharp Racing team with Carl Hartman, coming off an 18th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway, looked to  make  more progress this weekend with the truck. Park finished the first practice with the 29th-quickest time of 32.702 seconds (165.158 mph).
 
In the thirty-minute break between practice sessions, the No. 41 team went to work to do everything possible to improve the truck. Park picked up time in the final practice with the 22nd-quickest lap time of 32.060 seconds (168.434 mph).
 
Early Friday afternoon, the No. 41 team was back in action, preparing the truck for qualifying. Park rolled off the grid, and laid down a lap of 31.809 seconds (169.763 mph). He picked up time from the practices and qualified 18th.
 
The green flag waved Friday night and the No. 41 Van Dyk Baler Bollegraaf Lubo USA team was ready to compete for a top spot. Park moved up through the field right off the bat, and by lap 5, he battled three-wide going down the backstretch with Jeffery Earnhardt. Park was able to hold off the No. 47 for the 16th position.
 
On lap 15, Park radioed to the crew that the field continued to get away from him in the straightaways. The caution flag waved for the first time in the night on lap 19 when Earnhardt spun, which gave crew chief Jefferson Hodges time to strategize how to get the No. 41 up front. Park came down pit road in the 17th position and pitted for fuel only. The quick stop allowed Park to restart 13th on lap 25.
 
Bad luck struck on lap 29, when the No. 41 brushed the wall. Park radioed to the crew that trash or rubber got under the car and caused the truck to get into turn two. The team quickly assembled a plan of attack, and Park came down pit road for an unscheduled stop to assess the damage. The crew fixed the damage on the right rear where the truck brushed the wall.
The No. 41 went back out in the 33rd position, two laps down. “It’s alright,” radioed crew chief Hodges. “We are going to battle back. This is a long race, and we have a long way to go.” Despite damage to the right rear of the truck, Park continued to run the same lap times as he did before the incident.
 
The second caution of the race waved on lap 45. Park did not follow the leaders down pit road, and gained one of his two laps back. He restarted the race on lap 50 from the 30th position. By the half-way mark on lap 75, Park explained that the left-front shock was causing problems.
 
The caution flag waved for the third time on lap 75, and Park brought the No. 41 down pit road for four tires, fuel and a jack screw adjustment. Park restarted 28th, and quickly thereafter, the fourth caution of the day waved on lap 91. He relayed to the crew that the truck continued to be loose in the corners, and  it was hard to keep the truck straight. The team made a track bar adjustment, filled up on fuel and checked the left front shock, but did not change tires. He restarted in the 29th position. 
 
Another caution waved on lap 90, and Park came in for wedge adjustments and fuel. Park restarted in the 27th position, and he was determined to improve his position in the remaining 50 laps of the race. Park fought to work with the truck around the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway and crossed the finish line 25th, three-laps down. Todd Bodine grabbed the victory in the Built Ford Tough 225.
 
“Overall, I think that we improved this weekend,” explained Park. “Obviously it is not the finishing position that we would have liked, but I think our team made a lot of progress this weekend. We started on the free side, and all weekend we were trying to find the issue. We went up in the fence in turn two while I was driving the high line around lap 29. We pitted to fix the truck and just couldn’t get back on the lead lap. All in all, I think that it was a positive weekend. The way that the race played out, we were not able to get to our goal of finishing in the top-15. I feel as if we improved this weekend, even if our finish doesn’t show it. I’m really proud of the No. 41 Van Dyk Baler Bollegraaf Lubo USA team.”