Daytona II: Patrick Carpentier preview

Five months ago, Patrick Carpentier began his rookie season at Daytona International Speedway. The Quebec native knew the challenges he faced. Visiting tracks for the first time, making every race on qualifying time plus learning the intricacies...

Five months ago, Patrick Carpentier began his rookie season at Daytona International Speedway. The Quebec native knew the challenges he faced. Visiting tracks for the first time, making every race on qualifying time plus learning the intricacies of his Dodge while racing against drivers with vastly more experience were just some of the hurdles he faced.

The driver who bought a book to learn NASCAR before the season has performed respectably in his first 17 races making all but one race where he has had a chance to qualify, earning two top-25 finishes, rookie of the race honors, and earning his first Sprint Cup pole at Loudon last weekend.

With this weekend's 400-mile race at Daytona, Carpentier gets a chance to race at a track for the second time in 2008 -- something that should speed his progress along the learning curve.

"The pole last week was a great shot in the arm for this team," Carpentier said. "This is exactly what this team has been waiting for. But now it's time to put that behind us and look ahead.

"The tracks are so diverse in this sport. From one week to the next it's a different type of track. It's hard for me sometimes, because just when I start understanding a track a little better it's time to pack up and head off to the next race. That's why I'm so excited to start heading back to tracks for the second time."

Since missing the Daytona 500 Carpentier has qualified on time for 12 consecutive races.

DRIVER PATRICK CARPENTIER:

"I've learned a lot about the drafting since we last visited Daytona. I think I can credit the Talladega race weekend for that. I ran both the Cup and Nationwide races. Even though the cars differ a little bit in how they handle in the draft, there's a lot you can take between the two series.

"I was able to sit back and watch some of the best drafters in the series. I watched a lot of how Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon handled themselves in the draft and I tried to make mental notes of that.

"My teammate, Elliott Sadler has been a great help to me as well. He's always coming over to give me advice or just sitting me down and explaining things to me. He's been a huge help in making this difficult transition this year, especially regarding the draft.

"The tracks are so diverse in this sport. From one week to the next it's a different type of track. It's hard for me sometimes, because just when I start understanding a track a little better it's time to pack up and head off to the next race. That's why I'm so excited to start heading back to tracks for the second time.

NOTES

Daytona Speedway

* Carpentier qualified 11th for the 150's in the spring. He was the highest qualifying Dodge and rookie for the twin 150's.

* A blown tire during the 150's ended his quest for his first Daytona start.

2008 Season

* Carpentier earned his first career pole at New Hampshire Speedway in June becoming the second foreign born driver to win a Sprint Cup pole. Fellow Canadian Lloyd Shaw won the other pole award in 1953. It was also the first time a rookie has ever earned a pole in the Cup Series at Loudon.

* At Michigan in June Carpentier earned the "Improving the Finish" award after starting 43rd and finishing 24th. The award honors the driver who best improves his finish from the green flag to the checkered flag.

-credit: gem

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Patrick Carpentier , Elliott Sadler