Steve Park drove a faultless race at a dry Watkins Glen to score his first ever Winston Cup victory, holding off road racing expert Mark Martin in a dramatic chase to the flag.

Steve Park finally showed the form which saw him touted as a future champion when he arrived on the Winston Cup tour in 1998 by taking a well deserved win at the Global Crossing @ the Glen on Sunday.

For the first time all weekend the rain stayed away and didn't perform its usual trick of dumping vast quantities of water around the 2.45 mile track every time a Winston Cup car left the pit-lane and the race was allowed to run in dry conditions.

Bobby Labonte led the field away from pole position in the Joe Gibbs owned Pontiac while Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt disputed second place, the rest of the field jostling for position behind.

On lap two the jostling became more serious as Ton Stewart and Jeff Gordon clashed coming through the esses while battling for sixth place. The Home Depot and DuPont cars made contact going into Turn One but neither driver refused to give an inch and remained side by side as the track swept through the fast uphill esses. With Gordon on the outside line, Stewart began to move over on the #24 Chevrolet forcing Jeff into the armco at almost full chat. Somehow Gordon managed to keep the car away from the 35 or so cars that were following closely behind although the sheet metal was badly damaged and Gordon, his road course winning streak in tatters, fell a lap behind.

A little further round the third lap Earnhardt lost the rear end of the #3 Chevrolet as he accelerated out of the chicane at the end of the back straight and spun into the tyre wall, lightly damaging the rear of his car and bringing out the day's first caution flag. Although Earnhardt was able to keep the engine running and toured back to the pits for repairs, he would not feature amongst the leaders again.

Labonte continued to lead the field away from the restart, determined not to let Jarrett lead a lap and thus gain the five bonus points on offer. Jarrett in turn was being hassled by Jeff Burton in the leading Roush car of Jeff Burton who was having his best ever run on a road course.

Park meanwhile was making swift progress through the order from his 18th starting place and was tenths by lap twelve and closing on the leaders while others on the move in the early going included Mark Martin who was soon inside the top five in the Valvoline Ford and Robby Gordon who was making meteoric progress from 42nd on the grid and already encroaching on a place inside the top 20 by lap 15.

Labonte surrendered the lead to Burton just prior to the first round of stops which commenced on lap 28, Martin and Ricky Rudd also leading during the course of the next few laps. However the major talking point was the progress of Park towards the end of the first stint as the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet driver moved into the top five and then proceeded to turn in some electric laps as the rest of the field began to pit. Park's crew changed all four tyres and filled the tank in swift fashion when their man pitted on lap 31 allowing him to rejoin the track marginally ahead of Labonte, Burton and Martin.

For a driver who had never won a race on an oval before, let alone a road course, Park controlled the race from the front with skill and patience not once allowing his pursuers a shot at his lead. Labonte gradually dropped back and it was left to the two Roush machines of Martin and Burton to challenge the leader.

Despite several caution periods during the middle portion of the race, Park held his nerve and only surrendered his lead when he made his second stop on lap 57. Once again the Dale Earnhardt Inc crew performed masterfully and Park was out ahead of his race rivals once again. However he was not in the lead as several drivers, including Robby Gordon, Wally Dallenbach and Joe Nemechek had adopted a different pit strategy and were anxiously awaiting a caution flag.

On lap 64 their wish was granted when the yellow flag came out to clean up oil on the track left by Mike Bliss' expiring engine and they were able to make their final stops, thus letting Park resume his lead. Burton was second in line behind the pace car with Martin third and Labonte, Jarrett and Gordon R, next in line.

On lap 67 the green flag came out and Park was quick to defend his line from the advancing Burton who in turn held off his team-mate and the points leader. Over the next five laps Park was able to eke out a small lead over Burton who came under increasing pressure from Martin who has built himself a reputation as a road course specialist. However it took Mark until lap 79 before he was able to pass his team-mate on the long run down to Turn One.

The final ten laps were as tense as any this season with Park fighting to hold off the wily Martin. Almost inexorably the Valvoline car ate into Park's lead and with five laps remaining there was little more than two car lengths between them. However Park was ready for the inevitable dive and when it happened, going into Turn One on lap 87, Park braked late enough to hold on to his position. On the final lap Mark frantically darted and weaved around behind Park in an effort to distract him but it was not enough on this day and the chequered flag duly fell to an elated Park.

"The guys did a good job of telling me to stay focused and save the brakes and save the tyres," said Park. "I didn't want to get too focused on what he (Martin) was doing. I needed to stay focused on what I needed to do."

Martin was gracious in defeat saying "Steve won that race, he earned it." He was just glad that he had made it to the finish after two consecutive 43rd place finishes which eliminated him from the title hunt.

Burton was third which kept him in contention for the Championship, scoring his best road course result to date although he was kept on his toes by the inspired Robby Gordon who equalled his best ever Winston Cup result in his self-owned car. Gordon benefited from his pit-strategy to vault up the order and then proceeded to move up the leaderboard in the final run to the flag.

Labonte eventually settled for fifth and an increased points lead while Stewart dutifully followed his team-mate home in sixth. Jarrett finished seventh although he was followed closely by Nemechek and Dallenbach who both drove well for surprise top ten results. For Dallenbach, the three laps he led in his Galaxy Motorsports Ford were the first laps he had led all year while Nemechek's eighth place was his best ever road course result.

Matt Kenseth ran a strong race to finish tenth and was the best rookie on the day by a considerable margin. Dale Earnhardt Jr was a mid race retirement with transmission failure while the next best rookie was Stacy Compton back in 29th place.

The road racing specialists suffered a tough day with Ron Fellows posting the race's first retirement after just 21 laps and Tom Hubert struggling home in 33rd place, one position ahead of a troubled Rusty Wallace.

Ron Hornaday was a respectable 15th in place of Terry Labonte and actually had the honour of being the best placed finisher from the Rick Hendrick stable as Jeff Gordon could do no better than 23rd and Jerry Nadeau retired.

Bobby Labonte will be breathing a sigh of relief after actually increasing his points lead in a race where he was expected to lose ground to Dale Jarrett. Labonte gained even more ground over Dale Earnhardt who finished 25th but will have to keep an eye on Jeff Burton who appears to be running into a rich vein of form at precisely the right time.