CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Carpentier press conference, part II

An interview with Patrick Carpentier Part 2 of 2 Q: From what you've just said in the last minute or so it sounds like you're talking in past tense that you've already decided that you won't be with Player's next year. Patrick Carpentier: ...

An interview with Patrick Carpentier
Part 2 of 2

Q: From what you've just said in the last minute or so it sounds like you're talking in past tense that you've already decided that you won't be with Player's next year.

Patrick Carpentier: It's certainly looking that way. I think that that's the way it's heading. And that's the way it's going to be. That's actually everything we're doing and everything we're working on0x2022 to move on.

Q:  There's been some speculation that you're going to replace
Christian at Newman/Haas Racing.  Can you give us any hint about that?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, I've talked to [Team owner] Carl [Haas] this weekend. And I had a good discussion. We talked about a few other things. But it's just funny because it just started as a joke. One of the one of the guys that works on the team there, Kenny, he came into the trailer and brought a sheet of paper. It was in my locker and it said here's a peak at your future. And I looked at the paper and it said Newman's Own, it was a salad dressing. I thought it was pretty funny. [Team owner] Paul Newman came just before the race and said we will give you a case of the salad dressing next year. And then he went to his car. So, but we will see what's going to happen. I don't know. It's a pretty good area of discussion right now with all the teams. We're talking in couple different series and looking to see what's going to happen. What's been happening lately should help me, I think.

Q: Hundredth start and you probably got this win. I got a couple things to ask you about here. It seems to me that after the race the longest time that I was talking to you about this whole thing you more or less intimated that even though there are possibilities of you jumping, I think a lot of us have already painted you over to the IRL or something, but if you could, you would like to stay in CART and stay in this series, is that accurate?

Patrick Carpentier: Yes. It's not done. Nothing is done in the IRL at the moment. I'll just say, I'll answer it this way. I'm really enjoying what I'm doing now. I really enjoy these tracks. There were a lot of people yesterday that came to see us and it was a fun race. And I think this series that has 18 drivers which are some of the best drivers in the world. I think both series have good and bad sides. But right now the only thing I can tell is at the moment I have nothing firmed up. I like ovals and I like road courses. And for me I win my paycheck in life trying to win races and being a race car driver. And that's what I intend to do for the next six, eight years. And if there is no opening for me in CART, and I cannot do it there, and I would being assured that I would be with a top team that would support me and give me the equipment to win races, then I would go somewhere where I believe I can win races.

Q: Can you explain what happened? It seems that since you more or less have told us that you probably won't be back with Player's next year, all of a sudden this team catches fire. Was there some pressure taken off with you and Michael and [Team Manager] Phil [LePan] and everybody on the team saying, as you said before, let's just play this string out here, it looks like we're reaching the end of the line. Did that relieve some pressures so this team finds cohesion?

Patrick Carpentier: Yes, I would agree with that a little bit because there was so much stress in Toronto and so much pressure. We had so many problems working up there. It was one of the toughest weekends that the team has ever had. And it was just very difficult. I think it made us grow up and then knowing that I most likely will be gone next year, and not knowing what's going to happen, the only thing I can control is how I drive the car and how I can get involved with the engineering department. And we just want to give the best shot we can. If I can win it for Player's, whether I'm there or not, next season, it would be fantastic. It would be a way to say thank you for the five years that we have had together. But it was a bit of a relief. Because right now I seem to be in the mood where I don't really care what happens. The only thing I can say is that I care about how much effort I put in and how hard I drive and the rest of it, like my friends say, just put it in someone else's hands and let's see what's going to come out of it.

Q: Some of the problems you mentioned in Toronto was the traction control seemed to be a problem there. But is that solved today and is that one of the reasons why the race looked so easy?

Patrick Carpentier: I agree with you and that's one of the things I forgot to mention. Since the beginning of the season we have ran at the front a few times, we were second in Milwaukee, we were running second or third in Japan and got disqualified. We could have almost won the race. We could have finished, not win the race, but finished in the top three. And in Mexico at the first one there. I didn't pay attention. We didn't communicate and I didn't look at the board and it was half and half of a mistake on myself and the team. We missed that and then in Chicago we had another problem. We had so many mechanical and different kinds of problems and bad luck, so it seemed like we're doing really bad. But most of the race we seemed to be right up there at the front. Lately we seem to be able to eliminate all the small problems and the small details that kept us from being in the front. And that's the reason why we're at the front now. I didn't even think of problems at Mid-Ohio. And we didn't have problems. So when you have that, you have a perfect weekend. I wouldn't say we're not going to have problems for the rest of the year. It happens to everybody. But when you have a really good weekend like that, it certainly helps. And it was the same thing at Cleveland. And just look at Vancouver. We were running in the top-seven most of the time, and in the morning practice I crashed the car in the wall, we had to go to the backup and we had a problem with the backup until the race came and we figured out what it was more for the race. But it was another thing that kept us from qualifying at the front. And the CART series, if you want to run at the front these days, during the race, you have to qualify at the front. Because every lap, even if there is a hundred laps it's all qualifying laps and it's all high speed and it's who is going to be the fittest and who is going to be the toughest that is going to be there at the end.

Q: Can you think of a better way now of being the hottest driver in the series of going into Montreal? It's going to be a party. Unbelievable.

Patrick Carpentier: It's good. It takes pressure away for sure. It's good for me. It's good for Player's and it's good for the fans. I think it's fantastic. With the team we have so much pressure and I can understand it. When you have a sponsor that puts so much effort into it, too, because the guys, I think they just wanted to win races. They wanted to win, they wanted to taste victory and it was not happening and it was tough. It was always something. And then to see that happening, I think there's a lot of stress relief coming into Montreal and it's certainly looking good and it's a lot of fun. If we can have a good weekend at Elkhart, oh, man, it's going to be crazy. But it's going to be good.

Q: Pat, when you saw that checkered flag getting ready to start waving in front of you, considering everything that has gone on this season, what were you feeling inside?

Patrick Carpentier:  I was just really felt a deep satisfaction inside
myself.  I was very happy.  We kept the race under control.  The guys
had fast pit stops and we ran a good race.  My engineer talks to me and
just says the right things these days and motivates me.  And we had0x2022
we have a good relationship.  But I was just really feeling deep
personal satisfaction inside.  But for some reason the biggest
satisfaction I had was the first day on Friday.  To me it's like
relief.  A lot of stress and sometimes frustration comes out and then it
just got better and better over the weekend.  And it was perfect.

Q: When you look back over this weekend, you talked about the fact that it just seemed like everything you did was right. When you look back over this weekend and compare it to things that have occurred not just this season, but everything that led up and over the last five years of being up0x2027and0x2027down, up0x2027and0x2027down, do you all of a sudden say, okay, this is how we're supposed to do it. Now I've learned the way this works?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah. But I cannot want to say that. Because I remember in Atlantic we started running well and then I started telling people, oh, I do this and it's because we do that that we're so fast. And then from then on to the rest of the season it was one of the worst seasons I've ever had. But I don't want to say anything, I just want to stay in that mood. But I really think that really with the way this team operates and the people we have around us, with [Technical Advisor] Tony [Cicale] and Bruce, and Michael and Terry, I think these guys are all extremely brilliant engineers and really good people. And I think that Michael has also done a pretty good job lately with the team and it's where this team should be. And that's how I used to race in Atlantic and that's how I used to run my races and that's how I enjoy myself. Right now I seem to really enjoy myself. Maybe because I just am at a point where it doesn't matter to me, I'm just happy to drive the car and I love driving the car and I'm happy when I go back home. I'm happy to go to the next one. But for some reason I don't seem to have the pressure like I used to put on myself before.

Q: And now the important question that everybody else is afraid to ask, so I'll go ahead and ask, and I guess it's something that's been asked of a lot of Scotsmen over the years that wear kilts. What did you have on underneath that flag?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, I'll just remain quiet with this one because I don't want to say what I had underneath that flag. I had what every guy has.

Q: Going into Road America it's almost twice as long as the other venues you go to. Do you approach that differently because each lap is a little longer?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah. I like tracks that are extremely demanding physically. I really do. I like Mid- Ohio, I like Cleveland because I trained very hard this winter. I'm really in good shape physically. If I have the car that can do it, I think I can maintain the qualifying rhythm throughout pretty much the whole race. And Elkhart Lake is a little bit less physical because you have such long straightaways, so you have time to relax for sure. For me I think it's better if it's more physical. But I like that track. I think it's a fun track. I've always really, really enjoyed myself in high speed corners. And that's what Elkhart Lakes is made of. So hopefully we get a good weekend there. It's looking good because the Reynard is a good chassis and we're going there to fight. So we will see what happens.

Q: And looking a further weekend down the road, Montreal, there's been some speculation about the top speeds of the Champ Cars as compared to the Formula 1 cars. A number of people say that the Champ Cars won't reach the same speeds as the F 1 cars. And obviously they're quite a bit different. But they seem to be down a bit on horsepower as compared to the turbocharged cars. What do you think?

Patrick Carpentier: Yes, I think my engineers calculate that the top speed will be very similar, within a few miles an hour. We think the CART car is going to be pretty much as fast as the F 1. But as for the lap, we think that F 1 car is going to be faster by about five seconds. So we will see what it does. But it's not the same thing, it costs a few million dollars to have a car in the CART series and it costs a hundred million dollars to have a winning car in Formula 1. So it's not the same category. It's not the same technology that we use. The races are really good in the CART series. And Formula 1 is more of focused on technology. I think with an unlimited budget and the use of carbon fiber brakes, they can use a lot of stuff which make the cars about three or four hundred pounds lighter than the Champ Cars. So they can go around corners and under braking, which is where you make the most time, you have low speed corners. So they can brake a lot later than the Champ Cars. And that's where they make their time.

Q: And actually on that comment, late braking, and whatnot, this last weekend that you made a spectacular late braking maneuver which caused da Matta to be put off his game. And I was looking at some of the tapes and you seem to be doing that quite consistently around Mid-Ohio. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, I like that track. I think you have to be fast there and you have to go into the corners fairly deeply. And that's where I seemed to be successful and I made better time in the Reynard. But sometimes when you try to go hard into the corner and you don't have the car to support it. The speed at which you come out is slower. And then you lose time on the straightaway. But no, it was good. My car brakes really well. And da Matta, I knew was going to try me, because I saw him coming in the mirrors. And I just broke really, really, really late. Actually where I broke at I was not even sure if I was going to be able to make the corner. And I tried deeper and he didn't make it. But I was pretty lucky that he didn't hit me when he spun. And I didn't know quite exactly what happened. Because where I broke I kind of needed to be looking forward more than backwards because it was going to be tough to make the corner. Then once I made the corner I looked in the mirrors and I saw his car backwards in the sand. And it was a big relief because he was starting to put a lot of pressure on me.

Q: Well congratulations begin and good luck this weekend.

Patrick Carpentier: Thank you.

Merrill Cain: Thanks for joining us on the CART teleconference today. Again, an excellent job this weekend. We look forward to seeing you back on track in Road America in just a few days and have a great birthday tomorrow. We wish you happy birthday on your 31st.

Patrick Carpentier: Thanks, guys. Okay.

-cart-

Carpentier press conference, part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Newman