Patrick Carpentier will start 15th Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has qualified 15th or better in three of the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
YOU DO NOT HAVE A GUARANTEED STARTING POSITION SO QUALIFYING EACH WEEK IS A CHALLENGE. HOW MUCH MORE DIFFICULT WAS IT THIS WEEK AT INDY?
CARPENTIER: “It’s hard here because the straightaways are so long. You know, you kind of lose perspective of the first corner and for us, when you’re not qualified you always want to make sure you’re in. I slowed down too early for Turn 1 and lost a tenth there but it was okay. The car was pretty good. It got a little bit tight but I’m happy. We’ve got great cars. For tomorrow we should have fun but we’re in the race so that’s great. We’re starting probably top-20 so that’s very good.”
COMMENT ON THE RACE TOMORROW. “I think it’s going to be good. I think we’re getting better and better every race weekend. We struggle in the race early on and it’s starting to get better and I think tomorrow is going to be good for us. I think the car is really stable, runs well every lap and I think we’re going to be a part of the race. I don’t see where we’re necessarily going to win it but we’re going to be in there somewhere in there, you know. If we finish top-20 I’ll be really happy. That would be great for us.”
IS IT ODD TO RUN AROUND HERE IN A STOCK CAR? “It’s hard. I don’t know for some reason I had more stress than some other places. This place is always intimidating, so much history and it’s so long, the straightaways and the corners. You’re going to see the wall in front of you and I slowed down, lift too early, going into Turn 1. But the car is good so it always helps when it’s that good.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THE RACE TOMORROW? “I feel pretty good. I think we’ve got good cars. I think the team came up with a new car and it’s very fast, very stable on the track and I think we’re going to have fun tomorrow.”
THIS FORM OF RACING IS NOT EASY. “It’s very hard. For me, everything I’ve done in racing, this is by far the hardest, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s very difficult to do. Here you’ve got to brake for Turn 1. We’re used to being wide open and here you’ve got to brake and the car slides and you’re going 200 miles per hour so it makes a heck of a difference. You gain a lot of respect for these guys that have been doing it for years.”
WOULD YOU EVEN RECOMMEND FOR OPEN WHEEL GUYS TO DO THIS? “If you want to do this you’ve got to do it 24 hours a day because that’s what I’m doing, watch all the videos, listen to everybody, try to get information from everybody and just think racing. That’s all I do is eat, sleep and think racing and now we’re starting to get our head above water a little bit. It’s very tough. You’ve got no data acquisition so you’ve got no feedback, nothing. I’m very lucky. I’m with a pretty good team and I’ve got two teammates that are helping me a lot every weekend. Elliott yesterday kept helping me and helping me so it’s been pretty good.”
YOU SEEM COMMITTED TO THIS AND NOT LIKELY TO GO BACK TO THE INDY CARS. “No, I don’t want to. I want to stay here. I’m either going to do the stock car or the Grand Am series. For me, I like driving these things. I love it. I don’t know why. Like I said yesterday, it’s like a rental car on steroids. The thing has got so much power. I really like driving them so I hope I can do it more and for many years. That would be good. We’ve got Sears Auto Centers this weekend and they’re in the show with Valvoline so it’s very good.”
WILL YOU HAVE TO MAKE A TON OF CHANGES FOR RACE PRACTICE THIS AFTERNOON? “No, not a lot for us. We changed a few things to go through qualifying setup. Taped up the front like everybody does and gained a bit of speed down the straightaway and today we had to take some tape off. When you’re far at the back like that you’ve got to take tape off because the engine gets too hot. We lost some time there but we’re pretty good. It won’t be long for us. It should be good.”
HOW SPECIAL IS IT TO BE COMPETITIVE AT INDY? “It’s very special. I was hoping to run well here this week and we came in and the car was fast and it’s been great all weekend so it’s pretty good.”