CARPENTIER TO MAKE INDY RACING LEAGUE DEBUT THIS WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI Homestead, Florida, Thursday, March 3, 2005 - Following a successful eight-year stint in Champ Car competition, Patrick Carpentier will make his debut in the Indy...
CARPENTIER TO MAKE INDY RACING LEAGUE DEBUT THIS WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI
Homestead, Florida, Thursday, March 3, 2005 - Following a successful eight-year stint in Champ Car competition, Patrick Carpentier will make his debut in the Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series which opens its 10th season at the Toyota Indy 300 on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last fall Carpentier signed a two-year deal to drive for Eddie Cheever alongside Californian Alex Barron.
Carpentier is no stranger to the Homestead complex, having competed four times on the 1.5-mile (2.414-km) oval track between 1997 and 2000 with Team Player's. The Joliette, Quebec native posted three top-10 finishes at Homestead, with a best finish of fifth, in 2000. His strongest qualifying effort came in 1999, when he started third. Like all competitors in the Indy Racing League, Carpentier got a feel for the newly reconfigured track during the IRL February test session. Following the 2004 IRL race at Homestead, major renovations were made to the race complex, increasing track bankings from 6 to 20 degrees in the turns, through the use of an innovative variable-degree banking system which will facilitate three-car wide racing in the corners. The $10-million construction project was completed last November.
''I can't hardly wait to start the season,'' Carpentier said. ''It's going to be a new experience and I'm really excited to begin the season with a new team in a new series. There was quite a bit of action going on at the shop following the Winter test sessions and the team worked real hard to improve the handling on the car. I'm looking forward to see the results.''
Cheever's race team has been shut out of Victory Lane for the past two years and team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. made major changes to his organization last fall, adding seasoned driver Patrick Carpentier, as well as former Formula One technical director Henri Durand, who will lead the team's engineering, research and development program. The team also selected Toyota engines to power the Firestone-shod Dallara chassis.
Carpentier adjusted well to his new team and IndyCar competition, finishing eighth overall during the five-day, two-track winter sessions at Homestead and Phoenix International Raceway. He was quickest of the two Cheever drivers, with a best finish of sixth-place during winter test sessions at the Homestead-Miami road course.
Defending Homestead race winner Sam Hornish Jr. remains the favorite to win the 2005 inaugural event. The American driver has won three of the four IndyCar Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2001, 2002 & 2004). Only Scott Dixon of New-Zealand broke Hornish's streak when he won in 2003.
The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised live on TSN.