Daytona 500: Patrick Carpentier - Dodge interview

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 10 Valvoline Dodge Charger) DO YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE PEAKED TOO EARLY? "No -- that's what I'm hoping. We got some help on that last one there. The No. 37 for some reason they just sent him out right before us and we had...

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 10 Valvoline Dodge Charger)

DO YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE PEAKED TOO EARLY? "No -- that's what I'm hoping. We got some help on that last one there. The No. 37 for some reason they just sent him out right before us and we had some to check and we had to run the car, so we finished the run, but don't count that one. We've been up top all day though so we're pretty happy about the cars. We ran three times with no help and were in the top three so hopefully we can do it tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day that counts. Today we had a lot of people congratulating us, but like my wife said, I won't be happy until its tomorrow night."

WHAT HAS ALL OF THE ATTENTION BEEN LIKE? "It's been crazy. Even for the test at Fontana I told the guys, 'Man, there's more people here than I had at my last race. It's fun to see. I love it, I really go. I like driving the cars and they asked me if I wanted to go around (the crowd), and I said, 'No, I kind of like it for now.' We went right through where the people are, the fan fest or whatever they call it, but I love it. I love to interact with people. I'm having fun so far and that's what I want to keep this year. If we make this race it's a small victory. That's all I want. To be a part of the race and be at the start when it's going to go off and if we do that I'll be really happy. I know there are some guys that are going to crank it up a notch tomorrow. We got everything out today so hopefully it's good enough."

WOULDN'T THAT BE A BIG VICTORY? "Yeah, it's big. If I start this race here it's going to be a big, big victory for me. No matter where we finish in the race. They haven't made that car in the last couple years. Even Elliott Sadler is driving by and shook my hand and said, 'good start, good start and hopefully it goes well tomorrow.' Hopefully it's the same. Everybody has been the same. The effort of the whole team today has been on the No. 10. Anything they learned out there goes right to that car. It's been fantastic. I hope I can make the race and hopefully give it back to these guys this year sometime when I get enough experience."

COMPARED TO OTHER TYPES OF CARS ARE YOU STILL TRYING TO TAKE THA CAR TO ITS EDGE? "It's different. It's fast. It's so fast. When we used to go 250 (mph) and it was all precision, but this one to me is harder to drive. You've got no aerodynamics. You go into the corner and, even in qualifying, I'm always sideways. I can't turn the wheel. When you add 42 cars to that it's really hard. To me the hardest thing is once you get in a group of cars and you are behind the other cars. It's hard to know that your car is going sideways. It always goes sideways, there is a limit to how much, but this car never takes a set. It's really hard to know if you're past it or if you're still in it. The train kind of keeps you moving around like that, so to me it's very, very difficult. Every time we tested over the winter, we tested every week, and when we finished at a track I was like now I got it down I know how it works. Then we go to a different track and run the same as I was before and I crashed it at Memphis, so it's a lot of learning. It's going to be like that all year."

IN 2003, WHEN JAUN PABLO MONTOYA DROVE JEFF'S GORDON'S CAR ON THE ROAD COARSE AT INDY HE FOUND THE SLINDING SENSATION TO BE FUN BECAUSE YOU DON'T FEEL THAT IN AN F1 CAR? "It's like a rental car on steroids, and I always loved a rental car. It's a fun car to drive, but when you have to compete against 50 guys and make the time happen sometimes it's hard to know where do I slide it too much and where it's not enough and how hard you push it. Kasey (Kahne) got in my car in Vegas. He said, 'Man, that thing is really tight. You need to loosen up that car.' I thought the car was loose, so we made some changes after that and he said try my car. I couldn't drive his car it was way too loose. We went kind of in between and made a lot of gains. I made some changes driving and we gained a half-second. He's not going to do that every weekend, so some places it's going to be hard to learn."

HOW OFTEN IN THIS TYPE OF RACING IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ONE DRIVER TO MAKE CONTACT WITH ANOTHER CAR COMPLETELY UNINTENTIONALLY? "That I like. I went into a slide and can bump into anybody and keep on going. I was even driving in the field there between turn one and two and did the whole part there in the grass and I was still wide open. I came back in turn two and the car was still handling, so for me that is a first. Before when the car went off you were done. This time I was like 'Yee haw' and came back and kept fighting. Same thing in Montreal, the car was all banged up and I kept going and going."

YOU SEEM TO LIKE THE BANGING AS OPPOSED TO THE OTHER SERIES? "Yeah, I love it. For me it's a great thing, but here you have to be careful. In testing I bump draft Ryan Newman a little bit too hard and I bumped the front end of the car in a little bit and I lost all the drag and couldn't keep up with the draft after that, so in the race that's going to be really important to be careful with that. That's the only bad thing about it. Besides that with the side fenders and stuff it doesn't seem to do much aero-wise so you just keep going, but you don't want it banged up too much especially here."

WILL THE VETERANS DRAFT WITH YOU OR DO THEY VIEW YOU AS JUST ANOTHER ROOKIE? "I don't know. We'll find out in the twin 150s. I'm hoping my teammates will be with me. They already know that they have to help me as much as they can if we're in it, but it's going to be hard. It's going to be up to them to decide. If they feel we're safe enough then I think they will, but if they think that we are starting to move around a little bit too much and I don't think they will. With these cars for me last year at Homestead I could not move around. I had a handful just keeping the car on the track. I kept going left to right, left to right all the time, so with all of the experience that I got over the winter testing every week I'm hoping that I'll be really smooth so the guys learn to draft with me. I don't know. It's up to them. If they like it then they'll say yes. If they don't I'll be at the back."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Patrick Carpentier , Elliott Sadler