Daytona II: Patrick Carpentier race report

CARPENTIER SCORES CAREER-BEST FINISH AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2008) -- Before Saturday night, Patrick Carpentier had never experienced the manic 400-mile battle under the lights at Daytona International Speedway. It's only fitting...

CARPENTIER SCORES CAREER-BEST FINISH AT DAYTONA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2008) -- Before Saturday night, Patrick Carpentier had never experienced the manic 400-mile battle under the lights at Daytona International Speedway. It's only fitting that Carpentier saw first-hand what kind of fireworks were unleashed at the World Center of Racing on July 4th weekend.

Fortunately, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year candidate came away from the evening's festivities unscathed and went home with his best finish to-date.

Having to qualify into the race on-time, Gillett Evernham Motorsports' Carpentier left no doubt in Friday afternoon's qualifying session, posting a lap of 48.734 around the 2.5-mile tri-oval, good enough for the tenth place starting position.

After starting the race under the scorching Florida sun in tenth, Carpentier's No. 10 Auto Value Dodge was keeping him busy behind the wheel, sliding around in traffic during the race's first 20 laps, dropping him to as low as 35th in the Daytona draft.

A caution flag on lap 20 allowed for a four-tire-and-fuel stop and a restart of 36th. Carpentier battled a right front tire vibration on lap 31, which would continue throughout the majority of the evening. Another caution on lap 44 helped alleviate a tight handling car with four tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment.

Running 27th, Carpentier pitted again after a caution period on lap 71, taking on more fuel, tires, and another track bar adjustment. Battling the continued vibration, Carpentier went from 31st to 35th before another caution flag on lap 109 allowed for another frenzy of pit road activity. During this pit cycle, Carpentier and Team Director Mike Shiplett attempted to stay out and lead a lap for point purposes but the plan was for naught when another competitor elected to stay out and pick up the five bonus points. Eventually, Carpentier's Auto Value Dodge would take on four new tires and fuel.

Carpentier's night picked up in a hurry when, with 36 laps to go, he avoided an accident directly in front of him. A similar feat occurred 16 laps later when Carpentier ducked to pit road to avoid an accident on the entry of the track's tri-oval.

Restarting 17th after the latter accident, Carpentier was shuffled back in the draft when he attempted to avoid teammate Kasey Kahne's tire rub. With the help of spotter Keith Barnwell, Carpentier rode the high groove until another accident, this time with four laps to go, would set up a final green-white-checkered finish. For good measure, Shiplett would bring Carpentier into the pits a final time for a four-tire stop.

Chaos ensued during the two-lap dash to the finish: a minor melee on the last lap gave Carpentier a chance to pick up multiple positions en route to a 14th place finish in his first official point-paying race at Daytona.

The finish is a career-best for the rookie, one week after the Canadian-born driver captured his first career pole.

-credit: gem

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Kasey Kahne