CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Carpentier press conference, part I

An interview with Patrick Carpentier Part 1 of 2 INDIANAPOLIS (August 12, 2002) 0x2022 What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART FedEx Championship Series driver Patrick Carpentier and...

An interview with Patrick Carpentier
Part 1 of 2

INDIANAPOLIS (August 12, 2002) 0x2022 What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART FedEx Championship Series driver Patrick Carpentier and 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion AJ Allmendinger.

Merrill Cain: Good afternoon everyone, thanks for joining us today on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with CART Public Relations. And we're happy to be joined by two of the shining stars following this weekend's CART action in Mid0x2027Ohio. In just a few minutes we will hear from AJ Allmendinger who was crowned the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion on Sunday. Leading off today's call however we welcome in the champion from yesterday's CART Grand Prix of Mid0x2027Ohio, Canadian Patrick Carpentier. Thanks for joining us.

Patrick Carpentier: Thanks for having me.

Merrill Cain: He completed a perfect weekend at Mid0x2027Ohio on Sunday by taking the checkered flag after having won the provisional and final pole positions. And he also led 89 of the 92 laps in the race in route to his second victory in three races. With the win Patrick jumps to second place in the seasons points standing with 95 points. And I think we can safely say now that the championship battle is on as Pat has closed the gap to 27 points on the seemingly unbeatable Christian da Matta with 8 races remaining on the schedule. Pat congratulations on a remarkable weekend and you even showed after the race that you don't go back on your word as you followed through on a bet you made earlier in the weekend. You went back out on the track later in the evening and actually ran down pit lane wearing nothing but a checkered flag and a smile. That really took some guts. We hope you didn't catch a cold. How did that transpire? Could you tell us that story real quick?

Patrick Carpentier: I'm not sure I want to tell that story. But it was fun. I waited until everybody left the track and then that thing went around North America or everywhere actually pretty fast. So everybody was kind of waiting for that. All the interviews I did after the race asked if they were going to see me naked or something. And every time I said, hey, let's go, let's do something. And we did it. And we laughed. We had a good laugh doing it. I'm not sure the picture looks that good, but hey, we had good fun. And I said I would do it. But next time I'm going to think twice before I say something like that.

Merrill Cain: Before you put your foot in your mouth. You get creative points for the most creative use of a checkered flag. Let's open it up to questions. We have got a full slate of media on the call for you today, Patrick, so let's begin. Do you have a question for Patrick.

Q: I spent a lot of time with Patrick this morning again, but maybe you can talk about the approach to the next race [Road America] and do you think that the car should be quite good there also?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, I think the car and the chassis are going to be good at Elkhart. We thought it would be good at Mid-Ohio and it was very good. So we're really happy about that. And Ford-Cosworth has been doing a fantastic job lately. So I'm really proud of how they have been coming up and supporting us. So I think it's looking very good, although it's very hard to say because it's so competitive. In Vancouver I was 16th. We won the race before and this race we won again. So hopefully we can keep going on that fast streak. But the CART series is so competitive that it's hard to tell beforehand. I think the chassis is going to be a strong chassis there and we should be up at the front.

Q: I talked to the doctors that you guys work with [CART Director of Medical Affairs, Steve] Olvie and [CART Chief Orthopedic Consultant, Terry] Trammell, and Trammell said that you've been to his house so many times that you know where they keep the towels there. But I'm curious, can you tell me some stories about working with those guys. I know they're pretty important to what you do.

Patrick Carpentier: I think they're the most important guys. I think they're some of the best doctors in North America. And the CART series is actually extremely lucky to have people like that around. Actually the reason why I know of Terry's house is because I've broken so many bones that I spent quite a few weeks there having him fixing me up. These are two great guys and two doctors that have so much knowledge and have been around racing for so many years. They understand racing injuries, which sometimes can be fairly different than any other injuries. Sometimes you can hit the wall at 200 miles an hour and nothing seems to be apparent from the outside. And you can feel pretty well. But your lungs can collapse or something. And they know everything about that and anything that can happen. So they make sure that you get the right tests and they make sure that everything's okay. I think if Alex Zanardi is still alive today, it's almost a hundred percent because of what these guys did on the track before they brought him to the hospital. They had to do a surgery right there on the track and perform a lot of stuff that I don't think too many doctors can do on the spot. So I really hang my hat to these guys and they have helped me many, many times and they're great characters and very nice people.

Q: Can you imagine functioning in your job the way you do without them?

Patrick Carpentier: I would be afraid to think about that. That is something I would have in my mind. And it's something that I'm not sure I would like to do. Because with these guys, if something happens, you know you're going to have the best treatment possible. And if that fails or something, I think nobody else could have almost done better than that. So they're really important to the CART series and CART has one of the best medical packages in place in any sport right now.

Q: First of all congratulations and happy birthday tomorrow.

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah. Thank you very much.

Q:  You're welcome.  Okay.  Now you've got two wins in the
last three races, but no contracts still.  What's the situation,
Patrick, with negotiations for 2003?  Are you close to signing with
Player's or are you close with another team?  Where are you at?

Patrick Carpentier: Actually, we're getting closer. But nothing really specific at the moment. We're talking with many teams. And as you know we're looking at everything right now and I'm having a blast where I'm at right now in CART. And I'm really enjoying it. But we will see what's going to happen in the future. I think for anybody anywhere at the moment with the economy being what it is, sponsorship dollars don't really come that easy. So that makes it difficult for any kind of series that you, or anybody wants to enter. So we will see what's going to happen. But at the moment my agent was there this weekend and a lot of stuff actually opened up that did not before the weekend. So it's really looking good. A lot better than what it's been in the past few months and I know I'm going to race next year but I'm just not sure where I'm going to be. I'm going to be on a competitive team and also one that can make we win races.

Q: The two wins0x2022 does that take your mind off the contract situation and it becomes secondary, because obviously you're in a better position now than you were three weeks ago.

Patrick Carpentier: Oh, yeah, for sure. But I don't know right now. I tasted the victory and I just loved it. I just love the way things are going with this team at the moment. The engineers and the mechanics and the guy, I think for the first time since we have been together, have never been so close and it's a big challenge and everybody is behind me as far as the mechanics and engineers are concerned. They're all behind me and they're pushing so hard for me to succeed. I'm in a tough situation but right now I think I'm having the best time of my life. I really am enjoying what I'm doing.

Q: Just following up on what you were saying on how everything is going so good, but is there just the slight bitter sweet aspect to it? I read some quotes I think it was in a story this morning that these guys are doing a great job knowing that I'm not going to be there next year. It seems like in your mind you have already sort of left the team, but at the same time your closer to the team than ever. Is it kind of a strange situation there?

Patrick Carpentier: It is a strange feeling, because with my guys, the mechanics and I have a really strong bond. If it's the last year then let's give it our best shot and let's see what comes out of it. But let's have fun and let's enjoy it. But it's fantastic to live through that. It's like a little bit of a story that is being written and it's fun to be part of it. But as far as next year, I don't know. I don't know exactly where I'm going to be or if it's somewhere else at the moment. But right now everything is up in the air. And I want to talk to a lot of people and actually my agent was there this weekend and he talked to a lot of people. And it's looking really good.

Q: Can you look ahead to this coming weekend? To the following weekend, you have the home race here in Montreal. With the two wins in the past three races behind you, you must be feeling an at an all time high in terms of your confidence. Plus, I would think this is a track that's well suited for the Reynard. It's a fast track but a smooth track with hard braking. Those seem to be the qualities which bring out the best in you and the qualities that the track has. Can you talk about your confidence level and how the car will perform?

Patrick Carpentier: We don't know yet. That's one of the questions we have. We don't really know how the car is going to be. But I think the team is coming up with some new stuff as far as suspension goes and coming up with some new stuff with the engine or something like that. But you know they're going to come up with a couple of things that we think can make the car a little bit faster. Hopefully they can come up with that for Montreal. They're not sure where they're going to come up with that, but it's going to be before the end of the season. Hopefully we can get it soon. But right now the car is really strong. It was strong at Mid-Ohio. We think it's going to be strong at Elkhart Lake and we're hoping it's going to be strong in Montreal. But Montreal is kind of a street circuit because the track is extremely slippery. The corners are fairly sloped and you have hard braking and hard acceleration. So we will see how it goes. And maybe the Reynard will be a very strong there.

Q: And your confidence level? Has it given you a boost in terms of your confidence, the fact that you got two out of the past three?

Patrick Carpentier: No, it's very good. It's very good for confidence. But even if I'm extremely confident I think if the car is not up to the challenge with [Cristiano] da Matta and these guys, it's going to be tough to compete with them. What's been raised more than just my confidence is, is because I've always pushed the car pretty hard. I think it's just a team confidence. Everybody knows what they need to do and [Player's/Forsythe Racing Technical Director] Bruce [Ashmore] is really guiding the team perfectly and [Chief Engineer] Michael [Cannon], the engineers and all these guys. And everybody does a hundred percent of what they should be doing in every department. And that's why we're that fast. My engineer also seems to be getting extremely confident and I think that that's helping a lot.

Q: Patrick, how are you and congratulations and happy birthday?

Patrick Carpentier: Thanks, Rick.

Q: Sorry, I missed your race on the weekend. But hey, maybe that's the reason you won. I wasn't there to bother you. My question is, with the contract situation, do you feel you've backed Player's in a corner with two wins in the last three races? I mean, they're going to take a lot of criticism in Quebec particularly if you're not signed back with them for next year. How do you feel about that? Can you talk about that?

Patrick Carpentier: I'll talk about Paul [Tracy] first. I think I know Paul Tracy so, he is a well liked driver. Pretty much an all-around kind of guy. Whether it's Montreal or Quebec or Vancouver. He's a fast driver and he's been pretty spectacular at times. And I think that the question that a lot of people ask is not why did they hire Paul Tracy, because everybody knows why they hired Paul Tracy. And a lot of teams wanted him and they wanted him to be a part of the Player's team for the coming season. But it's just that at a point that for me when the team's coming together, and I've had the strongest year with the team at this point in the season in a long time. And we seem to be looking like we may have a shot at the championship. And it is my best year ever. I feel I'm ready to win races and win championships. I'm ready to battle at this level and with my experience and everything, what I've learned I think is starting to pay off. So I think the timing is not very good. But sometimes that's life. Sometimes I've been with them for five years, which have been really wonderful. We had a great time and I can remember some stories and I still laugh about it and how it was fun. I would say that without them I don't think I would be where I'm at today. And they brought me up in racing actually like nobody else did. Sometimes they were hard and sometimes they were really encouraging and sometimes just different. But with all that put together, it's really, it really made me more mature. It's made me grow and made me extremely strong mentally. And I'm always the same, it doesn't matter where I'm at on the grid. I always keep working the same. So no, it's good for that. But as far as what's going to happen or if I'm going to stay there, I think it's a thin choice. A lot of drivers don't stay five years with the same team and I've been fortunate to do that and now I think maybe it's time to move on for both of us. Or maybe it's not. We will see in the next few weeks. I don't know more than you.

-cart-

Carpentier press conference, part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi
Teams ART Grand Prix