IRL: Phoenix: Patrick Carpentier preview

CARPENTIER EAGER TO RACE ON THE PHOENIX ONE-MILE OVAL Avondale, Arizona, Thursday, March 17, 2005 - Patrick Carpentier always enjoyed racing on short one-mile oval tracks during his Champ Car career which spanned eight seasons.

CARPENTIER EAGER TO RACE ON THE PHOENIX ONE-MILE OVAL

Avondale, Arizona, Thursday, March 17, 2005 - Patrick Carpentier always enjoyed racing on short one-mile oval tracks during his Champ Car career which spanned eight seasons. During that period, he set lap records that still stand at Nazareth and at the Milwaukee Mile. The Canadian driver, who moved to the Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series during the off-season, will again put his driving skills to the test this weekend at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway.

The two-day XM Satellite Radio INDY 200 affair will begin Friday with two practice sessions and one qualifying round. The Round 2, 200-lap race, is scheduled to start Saturday at 1:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. EDT). The Red Bull Cheever Racing driver tested the Phoenix track for the first time last February during the IRL Winter Open Tests. He fared well placing 10th overall in the first day and 14th in the rain-shortened second day of testing. In the season opener at Homestead-Miami two weeks ago, Carpentier finished seventh, on the lead lap, after starting 19th on the grid.

''I am still adjusting to a new team and we have a lot to learn'', Carpentier said, following a brief engine test with Toyota at Phoenix earlier this week. . ''We don't expect to win our next race, but we are running on a short oval, the type of track I've achieved some success in the past. To be successful this weekend, we have to qualify in the top 10, and stay close to the leaders during the race. Unfortunately, the new Toyota engine will not power our cars at Phoenix, but on this track, power is not all that is required. We also need a great car set up. My engineers will have to find the right compromise in balance and downforce as the track has a unique banking configuration. The team has modified the aerodynamics and suspensions on the car, and Friday, we will see how the Dallara chassis responds to the changes.''

Top 10 in the IndyCar Series Point Standings
In the point standings, Dan Wheldon, winner of the first race of the season, leads with 53 points, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. with 40. Tony Kanaan is third with 35, Vitor Meira fourth with 32 and Helio Castroneves next with 30 points. Sixth to ninth places are held by Darren Manning with 28 points, Patrick Carpentier (26), Alex Barron (24), and A.J. Foyt IV (22). Rookie Paul Dana rounds out the top 10 with 20 points,

Canadian Drivers Highlights at Phoenix
Carpentier will be the first Canadian driver to race at Phoenix since Scott Goodyear last raced here in 2000, finishing second while driving for Panther Racing. The year before, Goodyear became the first Canadian to win an Indy-style race at Phoenix. He also won a pole in 1993 during a Champ Car event. In his career, the Torontonian raced at Phoenix nine times, the last four with the IRL. Jacques Villeneuve, brother of the late Gilles Villeneuve, made racing history at Phoenix in 1984 when he set a world record for a one-mile closed course with a lap in 23.155 seconds (155.474 mph / 250.211 km/h). It marked the first time that a Canadian sat on the pole for a Champ Car race. In five starts, his best career finish at Phoenix was a ninth (1984).

Paul Tracy's best Phoenix result in five starts was a pair of fourth place finishes in 1992 & 1995, the last season the Champ Car Series raced here. The other Jacques Villeneuve finished fifth overall behind Tracy in 1995. The previous year, the son of Gilles Villeneuve shared the front row with polesitter Tracy. That year, both drivers ended their race prematurely during different incidents.

Kanaan; The One To Watch this Weekend
Tony Kanaan has won each of his two IndyCar Series starts at Phoenix International Raceway. Kanaan, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, claimed his first career victory at PIR in 2003, leading 79 laps and pulling away from Helio Castroneves on the final restart to win. In 2004, Kanaan dominated the event, leading 191 of the 200 laps en route to his second win in the Valley of the Sun. He will be the one to watch this weekend.

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent Mortgage on Saturday, March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race will be broadcast live by TSN at 3 p.m.

-mdo-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Darren Manning , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Gilles Villeneuve , Paul Dana , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing