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Carpentier back in Cup and Nationwide

31 May 2011

Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier is returning to NASCAR competition this weekend at Kansas Speedway when the 39-year-old veteran racer will be behind the wheel of the #32 FAS Lane Racing Ford.

It will mark Carpentier's 40th Sprint Cup start, with his last outing being back in November of last year in the AAA Texas 500 for Latitude 43 Motorsports, the last of six appearances he made in Cup racing in 2010.

"I am thrilled that Frank chose me to drive the #32 car in Kansas," said Carpentier, referring to team owner Frank Stoddard. Stoddard's team is currently 33rd in the Cup standings with 169pts, which puts it inside the top 35 automatically qualified for the race.

"This will mark the first time in my Sprint Cup career that I will be driving a car that is already qualified for the race," pointed out Carpentier. "There will be a lot less pressure when we practice on Friday, because we will be able to work both on qualifying and race setups.

Carpentier first raced in Sprint Cup at Watkins Glen in 2007 in the #10 of the now-defunct Valvoline Evernham Racing team. Carpentier won his one and only Cup pole at Loudon in 2008, and his best series finish is 11th at Sonoma in 2009. He's started at Kansas twice before and finished 29th in 2008 and 27th in 2010.

Earlier in May it was also announced that Carpentier would be driving the #99 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota of Pastrana-Waltrip Racing in the Nationwide series road race at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal on August 20.

Carpentier's presence will delight Canadian NASCAR fans. "We are extremely proud to see someone like Patrick, a great friend of our event being confirmed for our August race," said race promoter Fran├žois Dumontier of Octane Management. "Our spectators cheering for him will be numerous."

"This is the most important race of the year for me, admitted Carpentier. "We've been so close in Montreal and I think this year we have as good of a shot as anyone. I've said many times that winning in Montreal would definitely be a highlight in my career."

Carpentier led 14 laps of the 2007 race after stating on pole and going on to finish in second place in his Nationwide series debut. He repeated second place in 2008 but had less luck in 2009 (where he finished 38th after engine problems) and 2010 (where suspension problems ended up putting him down in 32nd.)

Carpentier has 14 Nationwide series since 2007, but his only series appearance in 2010 was at the Montreal road event with Diamond-Waltrip Racing.

"With the confirmation of my ride in the Nationwide race in Montreal with Michael Waltrip's team [in] August, it's two good news items," said Carpentier after announcing his Sprint Cup return. "This latest news makes for a fantastic end of the month of May."

The month did have a rather embarrassing blip at Indianapolis, when at the suggestion of compatriot and good friend Paul Tracy he was called in by the struggling Dragon Racing team on qualifying weekend to help them try and sort out their chronic set-up problems. Carpentier, a veteran of the ChampCar series from 1997 to 2004, had last entered the Indy 500 in 2005.

In the end, all he was able to do was prove team driver Scott Speed's assertions that the car was too dangerous to drive, then he put the #20 into the wall after two dozen practice laps. The accident wrote off Dragon's sole remaining chassis and forced them to pull out without completing a single qualification lap in 2011.


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