Owner/driver Michael Waltrip's 'tweet' coincided with his team's announcement Tuesday that Patrick Carpentier would replace the veteran in the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota for the Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway on 21 June.
“I'm giving my Canadian friend Patrick the keys to the 55 in Sonoma,” Waltrip wrote in his Twitter message while, in a press release announcing the change, Waltrip said that using a road course expert such as Carpentier gave him a chance to maximise the team's results at the 1.99-mile road course.
“If I see where I can improve my car's performance, then that's exactly what I am going to do,” Waltrip admitted, “I am a good road racer, but Patrick is a great road racer. I love being an owner, and I want to get another win for NAPA. It will feel just as good if I get the victory for NAPA or watching from the pit box with Patrick driving the car.”
Carpentier finished 23rd at Infineon last year, in his only Cup start at the California track, while Waltrip has seven top tens in 19 starts, but only one this decade. Carpentier will also drive for MWR and NAPA in the Nationwide Series road course race in Montreal on 30 August, having finished second there in each of the past two years.
“I couldn't believe it when I was approached with this opportunity - and I am honoured,” the former Champ Car ace said, “I really like driving these cars on the road courses. We will work hard and get some good things going at Infineon Raceway.”
The arrangement is a one-race deal, with Waltrip, who is currently 32nd in the points standings, racing this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. The #55 is also 32nd in owners points, with the top 35 cars in owners points guaranteed spots in the field each week. Carpentier was classified 43rd and last after an early retirement behind the wheel of the Tommy Baldwin Racing Toyota at Pocono last weekend.
by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service