PATRICK CARPENTIER/No.55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota got off to a miserable start Friday for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway; However, he was all smiles Saturday as the car was much better. “It flowed.” He was eighth fastest in Happy Hour Saturday. Carpentier is still in discussions with MWR about running the road course race at Watkins Glen in August.
Coming down pit lane during the race, Carpentier will be looking for the quirkiest pit sign. It’s a caricature of Waltrip’s face on a crab body. You have to see it to appreciate.
Carpentier’s experience at Infineon Raceway includes one IndyCar race and one Grand-Am race. He said it isn’t his best track, although it is fun if he’s doing well. As road courses go, Carpentier prefers Watkins Glen. Infineon is a hard track, and one has to be smooth and aggressive.
The always-pleasant Canadian isn’t doing much racing these days – a few NASCAR races here and there. He’ll be racing the Cup races at Loudon, Daytona and Pocono with TOMMY BALDWIN.
Carpentier will also be racing the MWR NNS car in Montreal, his home track; and he did the Indy tire test for MWR. He has moved back to Canada from Las Vegas, although he still has his Nevada house.
Carpentier has been working on his contractor’s license in Canada, and is almost there. He really likes it and is starting his own business, renovating and building houses. Carpentier is an avid snow sportsman, running snow mobiles and has taken up snow shoeing.
Another eccentric pit sign belongs to JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet – Marvin the Martian from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. JPM really likes the little guy and his crew said the icon is also used in JPM’s personal clothing line.
During his half-hour Q&A session he held with track President/GM, STEVE PAGE, before race festivities began Sunday morning, JEFF GORDON/No.24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet said that he wants/hopes that he retires from racing when he’s ready, and not because of his back.
The ROBBY GORDON deal to run a second car came together so quickly that the team had to thrash to ready the car and put together a crew – some of which are coming from Gordon’s Southern California off-road race shop. An Aussie from Gordon’s North Carolina shop is heading up the effort. There wasn’t time to get the driver’s name on the door, but know that P.J. JONES is driving No.04 Toyota. Or was. He lasted one lap.
Gordon recently won the Baja 500 race in Mexico, and then was penalized back to seventh place for speeding on a highway. He appealed and it’s being heard right about now.
One ‘spectator’ I forgot to mention seen taking in the garage scene on Friday was ROBERTO PUPO MORENO, well known veteran open wheel and sports car driver. For years he was Super Sub in CART/Champ Car World Series. This is his third NASCAR venue, after visiting Homestead and Bristol. Pupo was fascinated by it all. He said he was looking around for a ride at the Watkins Glen Cup race.
Several drivers have opined on double file restarts at Infineon, going into Turn One. My favorite comes from BORIS SAID/No.08 Ford, who said “It’s kind of like riding a bull in a china shop. We don’t have a lot of downforce, and then you put in the 43 guys that are like Dobermans with hand grenades in their mouth. It’s going to be an exciting race for the fans.”