Patrick Carpentier became the second foreign-born driver in NASCAR history to win a pole position last week. He's 38th in points as he tries to make the difficult transition from Indy-cars to stock cars.
The Canadian talked about his rookie season last week and he hurdles ahead. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: How does the pole at New Hampshire stack up to your other accomplishments in racing?
Carpentier: It's the biggest thing in my career by far. I want to stay here. I lived in the U.S. for a long time and my kids are born here and we go back and forth from Montreal to the U.S. and this is what I want to do. I've always enjoyed it and since I've been here I love driving these cars and I realized I never really enjoyed the other things I did before. For me, that's where I want to be and to get a pole today is the biggest thing in my career because I enjoy driving these things so that's great.
Question: You've had more success in the Nationwide Series. Is it difficult to carry that over to the Sprint Cup Series?
Carpentier: It is difficult. The races are twice as long, different the way you drive, but I get a lot of help from everybody. Plus in Nationwide they always seem to come with a good car; good, fast equipment. Sprint Cup cars, it's tough to setup the car because we've got to qualify the car and Nationwide we don't have to so we just come in and practice the race, race, race and just get ready for the race. It doesn't matter really where we qualify but in Sprint Cup all we do is practice qualifying all Friday so we burn all of our tires that we're supposed to have for Saturday on Friday because we really want to make it in the show. Then on Saturday you quickly change and set it up for the race. But like the beginning of the races you always kind of still fine-tuning it and it gets better as you go along.
Question: Is there a healthy competition between you and the other open-wheel guys?
Carpentier: Yeah, it's funny because Roger Penske came to see me because me and Sam (Hornish Jr.), we keep hitting each other. We still talk to each other, we laugh but on the track for some reason we're always at the same place and we hit each other. At Pocono he took me out and then I took him out and I took myself out and then Roger came to see me the next race and he said "You know guys, there are 43 cars out there. There's not just two guys from the open wheel. Forget each other a little bit and try to race everybody.' I said "Yeah, that's true.' He said "I told the same thing to Sam. Make sure you race everybody' and I said "Yeah, that's true.'"
Question: Is the adjustment from open wheels to stock cars difficult?
Carpentier: The hardest part to me is technical side. We don't have computers or data acquisition that we can look at and stuff like that. Even on a race weekend you can't really compare with Kasey which usually helps a lot. You just look at the data and say oh, that's where I'm missing it a little bit and you don't have that and have nothing to go back to. Usually the guys come through the ranks and you always remember something that you did in the past. But for me everything that I've done in the past has nothing to do this. That's been the hardest, the toughest challenge. It's going to be fun I think when we start going back to tracks a second time and plus the No. 10 team, (crew chief) Mike Shiplett and all the guys are all new. It's there first year so we have a lot of stuff to learn. We try to fly on our own but sometimes you just have to use what the other guys have and keep moving forward. But it's been night and day. I make notes every race weekend when I qualify in the race and how I drove and how I think it should be and when Kasey (Kahne) drove my car and I tried to make all notes of that to when we go back a second time I'll just read through that and see what were my weaknesses and strength. But it's a lot of work but I like it, I really do. For me it's the most fun thing I've ever done. And I like driving these cars. I've realized that I've never really like the Indy all that much. I had fun. You have to have fun because it's every week. I enjoy it. I always look forward to it.
Question: In general, the open wheel guys have struggled this year. Will that slow down the migration to NASCAR?
Carpentier: That's kind of the way I saw because I raced (Juan Pablo) Montoya in the Champ Cars and stuff and when I saw him go over there I was like "Oh man, this thing's got to be pretty hard' because he's good. He could drive an IndyCar sideways 24 hours a day and when you see him coming here and he's still struggling. He did well but it's still hard on the ovals. You're like "Oh, that thing is pretty hard.' I kind of knew that it was hard but until you sit in it and do it you're like this is something else. But I think I'm going to be okay. It's just a matter of time. As long as we keep making the races we'll be good.
-- Compiled by Don Coble