PATRICK CARPENTIER CONFIDENT AFTER HOMESTEAD ROAD TEST HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 13, 1999) - Patrick Carpentier can't wait until the March 21 Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex,...
PATRICK CARPENTIER CONFIDENT AFTER HOMESTEAD ROAD TEST
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 13, 1999) - Patrick Carpentier can't wait until the March 21 Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex, which opens the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series season.
The 27-year-old Canadian is chomping at the bit to begin his third season of CART competition, and feels ready to make a major charge in the points standings.
"Our car is very fast, and I'm very happy," said Carpentier Wednesday following a successful two-day test on the Homestead road circuit in his Player's Mercedes Reynard. "We're running good. We're really fast. I can't wait to open the season. I want to be here and compete with the guys. I think this year we're going to fight much harder than we did last year, and it's going to start here."
Carpentier recorded five top-10 finishes in 1998, his first season with the Player's team, and won his first two career pole positions. He also led 26 laps and posted the fastest race lap at both Portland and Michigan. However, lack of consistency relegated him to 19th in the final standings.
"We struggled so much last year on the road courses, and that's why I'm happy right now," Carpentier explained. "We're as fast as anyone's ever gone here, and we also had a good test at the road course at Firebird (Chandler, Arizona). We're happy about it. I think we're going to have a good season, much better than we did before."
Carpentier dominated the Player's/Toyota Atlantic series in 1996, winning nine of 12 events. He shattered many series records in the process, including more victories in a single season, consecutive triumphs (eight) and prize money ($226,500). He was CART's rookie of the year in 1997, finishing second at St. Louis in only his sixth career start, driving for Bettenhausen Motorsports. He joined fellow Canadian Greg Moore with the Player's Forsythe team last season.
Moore is one of the pre-season favorites to claim the PPG Cup, vacated by Formula One-bound two-time champion Alex Zanardi. But Carpentier feels he may be ready to give his teammate - and the remainder of the FedEx Series competition - a run for their money. "There's such a huge difference from what we have right now from what we had last year," he said. "I'm a lot more aggressive than I was last year, and the car is much better. If I finish races, the championship is something we've got to look at this season."
Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex opens its season with the March 19-21 weekend. The event also features the opening round for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in Saturday's Florida Dodge Dealers 400, plus the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Series in a Sunday morning race. For ticket orders, call (305) 230-7223. For additional information, visit the Speedway's official website, www.racemiami.com.