Oct 13, 2008
Another Road Racer Bites Dust In NASCARBy JR Nerad
This has been a dreadful year for road racers trying to make the switch to the roundy-round world of NASCAR Sprint Cup. Dario Franchitti and Jacques Villeneuve were two highly touted Champ Car and IndyCar racers who sought to make the change to the more popular, and presumably more lucrative, NASCAR circuit only to find the going much harder than they might have expected. Now it is Patrick Carpentier, another very talented road racer with experience in both American open-wheel series, who has failed in his attempt to become a “stock car driver.”
The handwriting was already on the wall that Carpentier wouldn’t be back with the Gillett Evernham team next season, but things got much worse at Talladega. After failing to qualify for the Superspeedway race, he got into an altercation with team director Mike Shiplett, and the scene got ugly. Shiplett blamed Carpentier for not qualifying for the race; Carpentier countered that the number 10 GEM car he was given simply wasn’t up to the task. There are no reports that blows were struck, but it came close to that, and in the immediate aftermath, Carpentier was fired. Originally scheduled to drive out the string this season, he will now be replaced by another road racer who hasn’t adapted well to NASCAR, A.J. Allmendinger.
Writing on his Web site, Carpentier claimed Shiplett’s criticism of him made no sense, and he pointed out that he had qualified the GEM car at tracks like Dover and Atlanta, where he wasn’t given much of a chance. As you probably know, qualifying a car in Sprint Cup is a very difficult process, since just a handful of grid positions are up for grabs at each race.
“I think it’s a complete lack of respect,” Carpentier wrote on his Web site. “I never was shy to take the blame when I thought it was my fault, but here, everybody knows that it’s like driving in a straight line. The driver just has to keep the steering wheel straight. He should have taken a time-out and calmed down before he spoke.”
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