Patrick Carpentier will replace veteran Michael Waltrip at the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway on June 21. Waltrip, who drives for his own team, will hand his No. 55 Toyota off to the Canadian when NASCAR's top series races on a road course for the first time this year at Sonoma.
The 46-year-old currently ranks 32nd in the drivers' standings and he expects that handing his drive to Carpentier will give the team a boost due to his road course racing background.
"There are so many great road course racers competing in Sonoma this year, and as the owner and driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, I am in a unique position," said Waltrip. "If I see where I can improve my car's performance then that's exactly what I am going to do. I am a good road racer, but Patrick is a great road racer. I love being an owner and I want to get another win. It will feel just as good if I get the victory or watching from the pit box with Patrick driving the car."
Carpentier, who drove last week at Pocono for Tommy Baldwin Racing, will get a further chance to prove himself at Sprint Cup level after losing his drive with Gillett Evernham, now Richard Petty Motorsports, in the second half of last year. He is also set to race for Waltrip's squad later this year in the Nationwide Series event at Montreal.
The Quebecois has raced at Sonoma only once, starting 37th and finishing 23rd last year. Before that, he led laps on his Sprint Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 2007.
"I couldn't believe it when I was approached with this opportunity. I am honored," said Carpentier. "For me to work with a guy like Michael Waltrip, who is a legend in NASCAR, is an amazing opportunity. I really like driving these cars on the road courses. We will work hard and get some good things going at Infineon Raceway."
Waltrip's decision not to race at Sonoma is believed to be a pointer towards his expected decision to quit competing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series in order to concentrate on other duties at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Earnhardt Ganassi's Martin Truex has been tipped as his likely full-time replacement for 2010.