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Park ends Gordon's streak

by Dick Brinster

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Steve Park got a break when Jeff Gordon's latest bid for NASCAR history quickly ended, then held off a closing charge by Mark Martin for his first Winston Cup victory Sunday.

Park, who started 18th, drove his Chevrolet to a five-length victory over Martin's Ford in the Global Crossing at Watkins Glen International.

The victory on the 2.45-mile road course in the Finger Lakes came in Park's 77th start. His best previous finish was fourth, earlier this season in Hampton, Ga.

After the race, he stopped in front of the grandstand, climbed on top of his car and raised his arms in triumph.

"I want to thank the fans," the 32-year-old driver from East Northport, N.Y., said. "Through all the tough times, they sent me letters and came to my autograph sessions and kept telling me my first win would come soon."

Gordon's bid for a record seventh road-course win ended when he tangled with Tony Stewart on the second lap, and the two drivers got into a shouting match after the race with Gordon threatening to "slam you into the wall the first chance I get."

Gordon had won an unprecedented six road races in a row and was tied with Rusty Wallace for the most road wins in NASCAR history.

But Park got this victory, barely surviving a valiant bid at the end from Martin, a three-time winner at the track.

"They told me he was going pretty hard, and I tried to not to burn the tires or the brakes," Park said. "We had great pits stops. Those guys were awesome."

Park took the lead for the first time on the 31st of 90 laps and stayed out front until pitting on lap 58. After regaining the lead under caution at the end of the 64th lap, Park held off Jeff Burton, who at one point closed within a car length.

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