NASCAR Media Conference
January 29, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We have Patrick Carpentier, who incidentally is the only NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver who actually lives in Las Vegas.
Patrick, talk about how the test has gone. This is your other hometown track.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, exactly. It's nice to sleep home, come back testing the next day.
But it's been not too bad. Yesterday we struggled a bit at the beginning of the test. Today has been a little bit better. I'm working with my teammates quite a bit. Kasey drove my car earlier this morning, and we changed few things and stuff like that. It's been wonderful. They've been working with me, helping quite a bit.
Every track is different. Every track we go to. Been testing all winter. Went to a few tracks. When you leave that track, you're like, I think I've got it down. You come to a different track, you've got to learn again.
No, it's been fun. It's been good. We've been improving since we been here and need to keep improving until the end of the day today, but so far so good.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Patrick.
Q. Are you going to be able to live in Vegas this year?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, this year I'm not moving. We love Vegas. Been here since '99. My daughter, my son were born here. They got a lot of friends here. They're still going to school, so I don't want to take my daughter out of school.
There's direct flights from basically everywhere in the States back to Vegas, so for this year we're going to stay, definitely stay in Vegas.
Q. I remember you raced here in 2004. You won pole, finished third. Do you have any memories of driver introductions after the truck race?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Well, the grandstands were packed for our race, because there was the truck race before us. Everybody was still there (laughter).
No, it's different. I mean, it's very different from what I'm used to. There's a lot of people. Went to Phoenix last year, Homestead, everywhere. It's unbelievable to see the motorhomes, motor coaches lining up outside the track, be packed.
That's what we like. That's what we like, is to race in front of a lot of fans. That's what you get with NASCAR, so looking forward to that.
Q. (No microphone.)
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Actually, it was within hundredths of seconds, so pretty much the same time. I was a little bit relieved there.
But, no, he said -- it's such a big learning curve. I mean, it's in the way you describe the car. For us, I think, we're so used to having a car that's stuck, you know, the back end of the car is stuck to the track and you go through the corners and you know the car is going to be there. But with these cars, it's how much on the edge you can drive them and how much you can push them towards that direction.
I think sometimes we're just asking if a car that's too comfortable to drive but not necessarily the fastest car. Now they're putting Kasey's setup on the car. I think it might be pretty loose for me. I might say, Man, this thing is really loose. Because once you get that setup, you really got to drive in almost all the way the middle of the corner full throttle and just keep the back end of the car down.
We'll see how it goes this afternoon, but it really helps me in the way I describe the car. If his car is really different, I'll say, Maybe that's what I need to have and get used to. I have to get a bit better car. He's pretty nice to just say, Stop this test. Got in the car, says what he thinks about it. It's always helpful. Elliott is too tall to get in my car, but he's helping any way he can.
Q. You've had a chance to drive a lot of different vehicles. With the Car of Tomorrow, what do you find the biggest advantage with this car and the biggest disadvantage?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I like this car. To me this car is a lot closer to an open-wheel car as far as the suspensions and the setups. I was talking to Kyle Petty and said, Man, a few years ago we used to have 15 guys working on the cars and two guys on the computers. Now he said there's like three car and 15 guys on the computers trying to make these things go fast.
To me it's closer to what I'm used to. We're used to having a lot of guys working with data acquisition and stuff. We won't have it in the race weekend.
I just like the car. I like the way it feels. The thing I didn't like about it, I did some bump-drafting at Daytona. The front end is pretty easily damaged. After it was damaged, I couldn't stay in the draft. It's fragile. You've got to be careful with it in that sense.
I mean, the difficult part to me is just understand what I need with this car to really get it up to the top of the chart. It's going to take some time, just driving it, getting used to it. I love that car. To me, I like it better than the older car.
I think the older car, everybody had a lot of experience on it and it would have made it even harder for us. But it also drove a lot more like a stock car. Once you lifted off the throttle going into corners, the car was going really sideways and it was doing things that this one is not doing as much, which makes it easier for us a little bit.
Q. Patrick, do you think you have a leg up on some of the drivers who are not used to all this data acquisition because you are used of to deciphering it?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, from looking at the time sheet, not today (laughter).
But, I don't know. I think it helps us. I wouldn't say a leg up, but it really helps us to even the field out a little bit because they don't have as much experience with that car. It allows us to come in and pick it up a little bit more.
I mean, with the older car, they got so much experience with it, how to set it up. Even the drivers knew exactly what they wanted out of the car, how to set the thing up. For us, I think it's better in that sense.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in, Patrick.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Thank you very much.
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