Parked: Steve Park On Top After Mess Of Modified Race At Daytona Battle At The Beach

Monday, Kyle Larson’s controversial win in the Whelen All-American Series race set the tone of aggressiveness needed to win for NASCAR’s Battle At The Beach events at Daytona International Speedway.

Steve Park (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tuesday that theme of unfettered aggressiveness carried over from the green flag to checkered in a caution-marred Whelen Modified Tour event.

At the conclusion of the crash-filled Modified Tour feature it was Steve Park moving Mike Stefanik out of the lead on the final lap to win the 150-lap feature.

Park, a former Whelen Modified Tour regular from East Northport, N.Y., was racing as a teammate to Todd Szegedy in the Mike Smeriglio owned stable.

The race was slowed by 17 cautions.

On Monday evening, C.E. Falk was blatantly dumped out of the lead by Larson out of the final corner of the Whelen All-American Series Late Model feature.

Larson ran with the leaders for much of the Modified event Tuesday, but got knocked out of the event while running second in a late crash that set up the decisive green-white-checkered finish.

On the final restart, Park got under Eric Goodale for second place just after the green came back out. Mike Stefanik took the white flag as the leader, but freight train contact between Stefanik, Park and Goodale sent Stefanik spinning from the top spot and left Park driving around him and to the checkered.

Goodale, of Riverhead, N.Y., held on for second. Ted Christopher of Plainville was third.

Park blamed Goodale for the contact the contact that sent Stefanik spinning.

“Mike is a good friend of mine and I never meant to get into the back of Mike, but I was getting pile-driven from the back,” Park said. “I knew the way this race was being laid out it was going to get aggressive at the end. … We had a good car. We preserved down on the bottom, got on the brakes, got piledrived from the back. … Think they were trying to wreck us out of the way to try to get the win. We just got lucky. We just preserved. I tried to get off of Mike and he got sideways and I got around the outside of him and back on the gas coming for the checkered. Sometimes you’re better off being lucky than good.”

Stefanik, a seven-time Whelen Modified Tour champion from Coventry, R.I., settled for a 13th place finish.

Responding to Park saying he got pushed into him, Stefanik said: “Yeah right.”

“I don’t want to say anything because I’m just going to say the wrong thing here,” Stefanik said on live national TV broadcast. “I am that freaking pissed. This is just bullshit.”

Goodale said he wasn’t to blame for spinning the leader.

“I knew there was going to be some banging, I just didn’t know what the extent of it was going to be,” Goodale said. “Once I seen Park get into the back of Stefanik I figured I might as well push him as well and try to get them both out of the way in one shot. Unfortunately Stefanik spun and blocked the low line there and I had to follow Steve through the line there, but hey it’s Daytona, we finished second, I’m pretty happy.

“I did not push [Park] into [Stefanik]. He was already into him by the time I got there. I was just trying to get them both out of the way. Me and Steve both got back to the gas about the same time and that’s about time Stefanik went around.”

It marked Park’s first victory in a Whelen Modified Tour event since 1996. Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield started on the pole and led the first 126 laps before damage sent him to the pits.

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  1. Goodale was pushing Park even before they got into the turn. If you heard his comments after the race he even said it was his intention to wreck both of them. A real sportsman… NOT The blame goes strictly to NASCAR for allowing Larson's win from the previous night. It was certainly not a proud night for the modifieds.

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