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Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Driver parked by DEI

May 7, 2003

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— Steve Park was fired Tuesday by Dale Earnhardt Inc., ending the tenure of the first full-time Winston Cup driver hired by the late Earnhardt.

"Steve was instrumental in DEI's first NASCAR Winston Cup program," said Earnhardt's widow, Teresa. "Our loyalty to each other was hard to overcome. However, the time came where we simply had to make a change."

The team hired Jeff Green on an interim basis. He was fired Monday by Richard Childress Racing. Green drove a Busch Series car for Earnhardt in 1995, the first year Earnhardt stopped driving it himself.

Park has had a tumultuous two years since Earnhardt's death. Six months after Earnhardt was killed in a wreck during the Daytona 500, Park was seriously injured in an accident at Darlington.

Park bruised his brain and was sidelined seven months. After he returned to the No. 1 Chevrolet in March 2002, he struggled through poor performances while ignoring speculation he wasn't healthy enough to be back in the car.

DEI gave him a one-year contract extension to take him through this season, but there was speculation he wouldn't make it to the end of the deal.

After winning the pole two weeks ago at California Speedway, Park wrecked on the first lap and finished 41st. He also wrecked out of Saturday night's race in Richmond and was 33rd in the standings with just one top-10 finish.

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