Patrick Carpentier, Driver, No. 10 Charter Dodge Charger Weekly Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Transcript August 5,2008 Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO RETURN TO MONTREAL AND RACE IN THE NATIOWIDE RACE LAST WEEKEND? A: For me, both of these ...
Patrick Carpentier, Driver, No. 10 Charter Dodge Charger
Weekly Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Transcript
Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO RETURN TO MONTREAL AND RACE IN THE NATIOWIDE RACE LAST WEEKEND?
A: For me, both of these weekends -- Montreal and Watkins Glen -- mean a lot. It was fun (at Montreal). I just wish the conditions would have been a little bit better because I know that Ron (Fellows) didn't have enough fuel to go all the way to the end of the race. We had already made our pit stop and our car was great after we made the (pit) stop -- even a few seconds faster a lap than he was after that. Anytime that you can finish in the top-three in that series, you've had a pretty good day. I was really happy that we actually had a race; the fans stayed despite the rain. The drivers did a good job and we didn't have too many yellow flags."
Q: HOW DID THE CAR HANDLE IN THE RAIN LAST WEEKEND? AND WILL DRIVING A ROAD COURSE LAST WEEKEND BETTER PREPARE YOUR FOR WATKINS GLEN?
A: Going back on a road course this weekend is great. We had a good test in Road Atlanta and hopefully we'll get a better result than we did in Sonoma. Hopefully we can get a little closer to the top-35. But, yeah, I think that it helps a little bit that we ran a road course last weekend in Montreal. I was impressed with the rain tires last weekend that Goodyear brought. (The tires) were around eight years old and pretty dried out, but still really good on the braking and would actually stop the car more than I thought they would. I could still use the brakes really hard and I made a couple of passes which was good and got passed a couple of times. Once the track got all the water on it, it gets a little dangerous and (NASCAR) has to call the race. Every time that we had to stop for a yellow (flag), the rear window would fog up. All the teams put Rain-X on the front windshield, but forgot to put it on the back window. So every time that we stopped, it (rear window) would fog up for a lap or two. That was the hardest part. But other than that, it was like any other race that I've done in the past; you have to be more careful and try to be smooth, not push too hard. I enjoyed it."
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO BE GOING BACK TO A TRACK THAT YOU RACED AT BEFORE IN THE CAR YOU'RE GOING TO BE RACING?
A: It's important. Last year, Watkins Glen was the first race that we had led some laps. We had a good race. I went off track a couple of times. The car was fast and hopefully we'll have the same type of car this weekend. We need to make up some more ground on the top-35. We lost a little bit (in the points) this weekend at Pocono. I'm looking forward to racing at Watkins Glen. We have Charter (sponsor) on the car. The last five or six races, Dodge has given me a really good engine. We've had some good power coming out of the corners and I've really happy with the engine's performance. (Having a good engine) has also helped me qualify better, so I'm hoping that we'll have another good motor this weekend. We need 14 points -- per race -- better than the guy who is in 35th place right now to get inside the top-35. It's going to be a challenge, but I think that we can do it. We've closed the gap a lot the last three races and I think that we'll keep on getting closer. I'm running both series this weekend and also at Michigan. The only thing is that I hope we don't have Nationwide practice in-between practice and qualifying for the Cup car."
Q: HOW MUCH DOES RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE RACE HELP YOUR CUP PROGRAM?
A: Where it helped me the most is at Loudon. For me, I have to learn the track. There are so many tricks you have to learn in these Cup cars. At Loudon, I gained four-tenths per lap by just driving differently and using different race lines and it actually worked during the Sprint Cup race. In the Cup race at Loudon, we actually stayed with the leaders until we had a brake problem, so I was pretty happy to run well. If they put me in a racecar, I'll drive anything. I may actually go with Ray Evernham on Saturday night to go race some sprint cars if I'm not too tired. It should be fun."
Q: DO YOU KNOW YOUR STATUS FOR NEXT YEAR WITH GILLETT EVERNHAM?
A: No I don't. We're going to find that out around August 15th. I really hope that it comes out positive. I think Gillett Evernham is pretty happy. Most of the sponsors that were at our sponsor summit in Montreal last weekend were happy. Valvoline, LifeLock, Auto Value -- and all our sponsors seemed to be happy. I hope that they are happy enough to keep me for next year and I hope Gillett Evernham is happy as well because I like being here and I like driving this car. We've improved so much since the beginning of the year with the guys on the team and Mike Shiplett (Team Director), so I should know in a few weeks.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED SINCE YOUR FIRST SPRINT CUP RACE?
A: There are so many things, but patience is so important. I've learned so much. I've learned that you have to be so smooth once you go racing. In qualifying, you can be tough on the car and drive it pretty hard, but once you go racing, you can drive it hard, but at the same time you have to be really, really smooth and let the car do the work versus yourself trying to brake the car hard in the corner or get in the throttle too soon. You have to let the car do what it wants -- that's the biggest thing that I've learned. I'm still learning. Every race that we go to, every track that I race on, I'm still learning a little bit more and more.
Q: HAS THE CUPS SCHEDULE MADE IT MORE HECTIC LIVING IN LAS VEGAS?
A: Yeah. I love Las Vegas -- I miss it. I haven't been home but about 10 days in the last three months. I really miss it. My wife has a direct flight to all the races. My daughter is going to start school there next month. (On the road) we live on the motor coach and just travel. Next weekend we're going to New York and visit some places. We're going to go visit the Statue of Liberty with my daughter. I like it -- I like being on the road, so it's not too bad. (NASCAR) has been tougher than I thought it would be. With these cars and the schedule and the traveling, it's tough, but I'm getting used to it.
Q: DO YOU DRIVE YOUR MOTOR COACH WHEN YOU TRAVEL?
A: No (laughing). I sit beside my driver and just watch the road and relax.
Q: WHAT SKILLS TRANSLATE OVER FROM DRIVING INDY CARS TO STOCK CARS ON A ROAD COURSE?
A: They're very different. In stock cars, you really have to balance yourself from pushing really hard all the time with the tires and brakes. Stock cars have tires half of the size of Indy cars with much more horsepower. You have to be so careful not to burn up the rear tires and really be smooth with the car. That's the main difference. In Indy cars, you can attack all the time. You still have to be smooth, but you can enter (a corner) as late as you want and just abuse the car. I think you need a little bit more finesse with a stock car than you do with and Indy car, otherwise you will just burn everything up.
Q: IS IT MORE CHALLENGING MENTALLY TO DRIVE A ROAD COURSE?
A: I would say that a stock car is mentally tougher to drive on an oval because you are so close to each other with 43 cars on the track. Plus, the car moves around so much with all of the air disturbance. There are so many tricks that you can pull on each other with the aero just by being beside someone. On a road course, it's a little bit easier because things don't happen so fast as when you are in an Indy car. Even at a track like Las Vegas, I was coming down the straightaway and I would snap sideways with the car. But on a road course, things happen a little bit more slowly.
Q: DO OPEN WHEEL DRIVERS NOW RACING IN CUP HAVE AND ADVANTAGE TO STRICTLY CUP DRIVERS?
A: The best thing that happened for me last year when I raced in Montreal is that I stopped racing Indy cars in '05. I lost what I was doing on those tracks in open wheel and came in fresh to NASCAR. I think the Grand Am cars are a lot closer to the Nationwide cars then people think.
Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR QUICK LEARING CURVE WITH CUPS CARS WILL HELP SECURE YOUR FUTURE IN NASCAR?
A: I hope so. The last five races and ever since we won the pole in Loudon, it's given us a little bit more confidence and now we're running top-20 a little bit more. I'm starting to battle with these (Cup drivers) a little bit more where I couldn't early on out here. I get along well on-track with most of these guys -- I get by, they let me by, depending on who is faster. The last five races I'm starting to get really comfortable in the car. It's like the car got a little smaller again. I think it's happening at the right time and I think the team can see it as well. Plus we are starting to go back to tracks that we've raced at earlier this year, so if we can bring as good a racecar as we've had the last five races, I think we'll have some more fun.
Q: DO YOU FEEL MOMENTUM BUILDING WITHIN YOUR TEAM?
A: I think so. I think that we have a better chance to run up with the leaders than we did earlier in the season. At the start of the year, sometimes it was just difficult to keep the racecar on the track. In race traffic - on long runs - it was so tough. At some races, I was getting sick after the race because I was so tired and burned out. Now after the races, I'm not as tired and feel pretty good. I think I see good things in the future.
Q: DO YOU LIKE STOCK CAR RACING BETTER THAN INDYCAR?
A: There are three things that I like. Formula Atlantic was fun. Grand Am was great to drive. But NASCAR is the most fun I've ever had racing. I'm enjoying myself more then I ever had in the past in racing. I just appreciate the moment. We race in front of crowds that are unbelievable. To be able to be a part of the Sprint Cup series, I feel like a pretty fortunate guy.
Q: IS THERE ANY REASON WHY YOU WOULDN'T THINK THAT YOU WON'T BE BACK WITH GEM NEXT YEAR?
A: Money. Racing always depends on sponsorship. I think that I'm going to be at (GEM), but it's racing and things happen pretty quickly
Q: ARE THERE CANADIAN COMPANIES INTERESTED IN SPONSORING YOU?
A: Yeah. Auto Value has been interested; they have as many stores in Canada as they do in the United States. Subway has a lot of stores in Canada and they were excited this weekend sponsoring our car in Montreal. Valvoline sells oil -- all those sponsors do business in both countries. I think we're starting to see a little bit of a trend. Mr. Gillett owns the Montreal Canadiens, so I hope the tie there is really good at looking at potential Canadian sponsors.
Q: DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE DURING THE NEXT FEW RACES KNOWING THAT YOUR FUTURE IS STILL UNCERTAIN AT GEM?
A: To be honest with you, ever since I've been in NASCAR, I've only had one shot at it (to make the race). I have to qualify the car every week to make the race and at one point its like, "I'll give it my best and there's nothing more that you can do." If you worry about it, you'll perform worse most of the time. In Montreal this year, I went back there expecting results and they don't necessarily come. We never panicked and ended up in second place and if the race would have kept going, we may have won it. I enjoy it so much. I'm having so much fun that I don't let what's happening with the racecar or my contract bother me too much. I just go racing and focus on what I have to do and just have fun. And it's working for now. If it (re-signing with GEM) is meant to happen, it's going to happen.
IF YOU DON'T RESIGN WITH GEM, WOULD YOU CONSIDER SIGNING WITH ANOTHER CUP TEAM? GOING BACK TO OPEN-WHEEL?
A: I'll never go back to open-wheel. I'll race Grand Am or a series like that. But for me, I'm not going back to open-wheel. When I stopped in '05, it's because I decided to stop. I like NASCAR. I like the ovals and that's what I want to do. The IRL is going away from ovals and for me, I have no interest in going back (to open-wheel). I've had a couple teams approach me, but we told them that we can't talk until after August 15th.
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT MORE DRIVERS IN THE MONTREAL RACE DIDN'T GO WITH WINDSHIELD WIPERS VERSUS RAIN-X?
A: Yeah, I was surprised. We were trying to use everything we could. The windshield wipers worked for a while. At one point they stopped working, but the Rain-X did the job. Where the windshield was, I couldn't see out the right side of the car. I noticed that the windshield would fog up more where the windshield wiper was. So sometimes I would shut it off (the windshield wiper) in the fast straightaways because the wind was too strong for the wiper to come back down. Then I would turn it back on in the low speed corners just to clean it up and to keep the fog away. I think some of the guys that didn't have a windshield wiper got caught by that. The thing that made me laugh is when I saw Carl Edwards on the big screen squeeging out of the window. I thought that was the highlight of the race. I was like, "Where the heck did he get that squeegee at?" I thought maybe he stopped at a gas station on the way here to the track. It was funny.
-credit: dodge motorsports