Patrick Carpentier will return to the NASCAR circuit next weekend driving Frank Stoddard Jr.'s No. 32 Ford at Kansas Speedway. The Canadian driver, who now lives in Las Vegas, has confirmed that he will compete in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the year on June 5 at the 1.5-mile (2.414km) banked oval, round 13 of the 2011 schedule.
"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," said Carpentier who will be making his 40th Sprint Cup start. "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. I am thrilled that Frank (Stoddard) chose me to drive in Kansas."
Eager to put the disappointment of his failed attempt to qualify Dragon Racing's entry at the Indianapolis 500 behind him, Carpentier said the Cup chance adds to "two out of three" pieces of good news for him: "With the confirmation of my ride in the Nationwide race in Montreal with Michael Waltrip's team next August, it's two good news items out of three. This latest news makes for a fantastic end of the month of May."
By rule, the top 35 cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Owners Standing are pre-qualified for the race. This enables the driver to work on qualifying and race setups rather than concentrate only on preparing the car for qualifying in order to make the field. Stoddard's team is currently 33rd with 169 points.
Four drivers have driven the No. 32 Ford so far in the first 11 of 12 races. Terry Labonte, with two starts, has collected the team's best results with a 15th place in the season opener at Daytona, and Ken Schrader, the driver with the most starts with five, scored a best 22nd place at Martinsville. Mike Skinner and Mike Bliss have also raced the car, with best results of 24th and 25th, respectively.