CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Carpentier Nazareth Preview

As the FedEx Championship Series heads to Nazareth, Penn. for this weekend's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, one driver to watch will be Team Player's Ford driver Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier, in his fourth season in CART, is a definite contender...

As the FedEx Championship Series heads to Nazareth, Penn. for this weekend's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, one driver to watch will be Team Player's Ford driver Patrick Carpentier.

Carpentier, in his fourth season in CART, is a definite contender to break into victory lane this weekend. His past performance on the .946-mile tri-oval is impressive. Carpentier boasts a pair of Atlantic victories in 1995 and 1996, and has never started further back than the third row in his three previous Champ Car visits.

One-mile ovals seem to suit the 28-year-old Canadian, as his first pole in a Champ Car came at the series' other one-mile oval, Milwaukee, in 1998.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT THE RACING TO BE LIKE WITH THE NEW WINGS? "I think it should be good - a lot better than last year. Last year, actually, was fairly boring because we couldn't pass or do anything. With the new wings, I think it should be back to what it was a few years ago and we should see a lot more passing on the back straight, which is about the only place we can pass cars. It should be a lot better."

YOUR FIRST AND ONLY CAREER CHAMP CAR POLE CAME AT THE ONE-MILE OVAL IN MILWAUKEE. IN THE ATLANTIC SERIES, YOU HAVE A PAIR OF WINS IN 1995 AND 1996, AND IN THE CHAMP CARS AT NAZARETH YOU HAVE NEVER STARTED FURTHER BACK THAN THE THIRD ROW IN YOUR THREE PREVIOUS STARTS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK YOU LIKE? "I feel I can be fairly aggressive and with the bigger wings it should be better for me. I like the track layout and the team typically gives me a good car and this weekend should be no different."

WHEN YOU DRIVE THE TRI-OVAL AT NAZARETH, DO YOU HAVE TO HUSTLE THE CAR AROUND A LITTLE MORE, SIMILAR TO THE WAY YOU HAVE TO ON A ROAD COURSE? "Yeah, it's a bit similar to that because you have to brake really hard going into turn three, the last corner of the oval. You also have to apply the power really smooth, especially this year with the Ford engine; it has more power than we had last year. So, in that way, it's a bit similar to Brazil."

LOOKING BACK TO MIAMI, AFTER A STRONG QUALIFYING RUN, A PUNCTURED TIRE BEFORE THE START OF THE RACE BASICALLY RELEGATED YOU TO STARTING DEAD LAST. BUT YOU CHARGED THROUGH THE FIELD TO EVENTUALLY FINISH FIFTH. HOW SATISFYING OF A RUN WAS THAT FOR YOU? "It was great racing, a lot of fun. It was a good race and we had a decent car. I think we ended up passing 31 cars all together. I enjoy racing when the car is like that. It doesn't happen that way all the time, but that time it did. We had a flat tire, but we kind of pulled through the bad luck we had, didn't give up and kept going and going. At the end, we got some points out of it and minimized the damage, so I was pretty happy as far as that's concerned."

PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT IF PATRICK CARPENTIER HAS ANY KIND OF LUCK AT ALL, IT'S USUALLY BAD LUCK. DO YOU ASK YOURSELF WHEN YOUR LUCK IS GOING TO TURN AROUND? YOU HAVE HAD SOME VERY SOLID RUNS ONLY TO HAVE SOMETHING SIDELINE YOU. HOW FRUSTRATING IS THAT? "Yeah, sometimes it's frustrating. Not at Homestead though, for some reason. It always gets a little bit frustrating at times. If the car is good this season - and we seem to have the right package with the Ford engine and the Reynard chassis - our luck is going to turn. You can't have bad luck all your life. I have had some years in Atlantics and in some other series that I had such great luck it was unbelievable, so maybe I used it all up there, but I am sure it will come back."

Do you think that you may have a better chance to get your first win at Nazareth than you may at some of the other tracks the series visits? And if you don't FINISH on the podium, will you be DISAPPOINTED? "Yes, I will be disappointed if I am not on the podium. That's what we are going there this weekend for. Nazareth is a tight circuit and you have to try and start closer to the front. This can be a very good weekend for us."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier