Craven: Park Needs Support
By DAVE MOODY
Winston Cup driver Steve Park needs is time and support. That’s the opinion of
talked to Steve quite a lot lately,” said Craven of Park, who has struggled to
overcome serious brain injuries suffered in a Busch Series crash last season.
“Though we never really raced against each other until we got to Winston Cup,
I feel like we come from the same place. We’re both from the northeast (Craven
is an incredibly talented race driver,” said Craven. “He got beat up a
little last year, but he’s 100 percent now. All he needs is time to get his
confidence back, and a team that supports him unconditionally.
now, every time he gets into a little scrape, people are looking at him with
raised eyebrows. Maybe even some people on his own team. They’re making a list
of every mistake he makes, trying to justify the same “damaged goods” label
they hung on me. I battled that for a long time, and it was very difficult,”
he said. “A lot of car owners walked past me without every giving me a second
look, because they believed I was supposedly too hurt, too scared to get the job
said his own experience taught him that no matter how hard you try, there are
going to be periods of adversity.
told Steve, `You’re going to go through tough times in this sport,’” said
Craven. “And right now, this is one of his tough times. It may last a day, it
may last a month, nobody knows. But no matter how long it lasts, he has to
persevere. My tough time came in 1999 and 2000. I was with the Midwest Transit
team, and we didn’t have the funding or the people to be competitive. It was
tough, but I knew that if I stayed focused, I could survive.
the attitude Steve needs right now.”
said the pressure of the Winston Cup Series has produced a “now or never”
philosophy that makes it difficult to succeed.
lives and dies according to what happened last week,” he said. “There’s so
much attention paid to `who’s in the top 10, who’s in the top 20,’ that
nobody is willing to think long term. Drivers, crewchiefs, and crewmembers know
that either they get it done now, or they’re out the door tomorrow. Teams
don’t have time to develop chemistry anymore.”
said Craven, has enabled his Tide-sponsored team to thrive this season.
had the same people in place for the last 18 months. Nobody has fallen for the
lure of more money, nobody has jumped ship to join another team. We’re all
here, we all get along terrifically, and we’re all committed to putting this
team at the top of the hill. We’re not there yet, but we’re gaining.”
It took Jerry Lesage 19 years to find his way to
Thursday night at
say this is a dream come true, but I’m not sure I even dreamed this big,”
said Lesage, who began his racing career on the old Northern NASCAR circuit at
two laps to go, I had four or five car lengths on Phil, and they were telling me
on the radio, `you’re okay, you’re okay,’” said Lesage. “Then, all of
a sudden, I look in the mirror and all I can see is green. I wanted to protect
the bottom, but I opened up door in turn two on the last lap.”
pushed the nose of his Ford underneath Lesage’s Alpine Sprinkler Chevrolet
going into turn three, and the two made contact. Lesage dirt-tracked his way
through the final turn, crossing under the checkered flag inches from the wall,
and less than three feet in front of Scott.
figured `What the heck, even if I pound the wall I’m going to finish
second,’” said a beaming Lesage afterward. “I don’t get into that
position very often, so I was going for broke.”
meanwhile, said Lesage made all the right moves. “If it was the last lap of
the Milk Bowl, maybe I (drive it in) a little deeper. But tonight, it would have
been the wrong move. Jerry had a great car, and he deserved to win.”
credited his crew for the victory, and also a bit of outside help.
Latuch (co-crewchief for Brad Leighton’s NASCAR Busch North Series team) has
been giving us some pointers, and we changed three shocks right before the
feature. Obviously, it worked.”
Thursday night win showcased everything that is right about the ACT system.
Without the advantage of an up-front starting spot, comparatively low-buck teams
like Lesage’s have little or no hope of ever cracking
Still recovering from injuries suffered in a savage NASCAR Busch Series
crash on May 19 at
decision is) not going to some in five or six months. It's going to take a lot
longer than that,” said Purvis from his home in
is currently fitted with a halo device, anchored with a series of screws in his
skull, to stabilize his fractured neck vertebrae. His scheduled June 22 marriage
to fiancé Margo Turner will occur as scheduled, but the reception has been
postponed until after his recovery is complete. And while she has pledged to
support his future husband in whatever road he chooses, Turner has made it clear
she hopes the former world dirt track champion has run his final race.
has been there for me from the start, and I couldn't have made it without her
support,'' said Purvis. “But I realize she wants me to quit. My parents want
me to quit, and my sons want me to quit. But do I want to quit? That's a
question I can't answer right now.''
native Kevin Lepage drove his fourth race in relief of Purvis last weekend,
qualifying 18th and finishing 12th in the “Kroger 300”
at Kentucky Motor Speedway.
a year away, former Thunder Road LMS Champion Tracie Bellerose is returning to
the Thursday night wars for the remainder of the 2002 season. Work conflicts
prevented Bellerose from competing at the track on a regular basis last year,
but after a rocky start to the 2002 campaign, Bellerose’s Merchant’s
Bank-sponsored team has reportedly decided to refocus its efforts on Thursday
night racing, in an attempt to regain their momentum.
end of an era could be at hand. Winston Cup team owner Junie Donlavey said
Saturday that he is mulling retirement from the sport. The 78-year old Donlavey
lost his driver, Rick Mast, to a mysterious (and as yet undiagnosed) illness a
few weeks ago, and his sponsor, the C.F. Sauer Company, withdrew their support
two weeks ago due to poor on-track performance.
said Sunday that his team will not be at
American-Canadian Tour Pro Stock competitor Randy MacDonald will be part of
NASCAR history Saturday at Memphis Motorsports Park, when he and his sister,
Teri, race against each other in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event there.
They will become the first brother/sister combo to start a
major NASCAR race since Tim Flock and his sister, Ethyl Flock Mobley, competed on the beach road course at Daytona in 1949.
as the “Ontario Golden Boy” during his stint on the ACT Tour, Randy
MacDonald is a regular on the Craftsman Truck Series. Teri has previously
competed on the ASA, IMSA, and CASCAR
Series’, and hopes to run for NCTS Rookie of the Year honors in 2003.
marks the 35th anniversary of racing at
Riverside Speedway in
Riverside Speedway in
Thunder Road fans
can get some “home cooking” away from home Sunday, when the ACT Dodge Tour
travels to the third-mile Canaan USA Speedway asphalt track, accompanied by
ACT’s Subway Flying Tiger Grand Slam Series, and the ACT Street Stock Series.
The green flag flies at
. And finally, Devil’s Bowl Speedway in
went shopping last week, reportedly buying six digits worth of Fords from Penske
Racing South. The move comes as Petree prepares to partner (one of those new-age
verbs everyone seems to love so much) with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Jones has a business relationship with Ford, prompting the shopping spree.