|Habs legend Guy Lafleur welcomes Patrick Carpentier to the Canadiens' family.
MONTREAL - The Canadiens are no strangers to speed, so seeing local driver Patrick Carpentier joining the Habs family should come as no surprise.
With the ink still fresh on the contract he signed Tuesday with owner George Gillett’s own Gillett Evernham Motorsports team, Carpentier was welcomed by a jam-packed press conference room at the Bell Centre. Fittingly slated to drive the No. 10 Dodge Avenger next season on NASCAR’s Sprint and NationWide series, Carpentier was all smiles as he met the media alongside Foster Gillett.
“Montreal has always been good to me. In this case, it really feels like the planets aligned as this whole thing came together,” said the 36-year-old driver from Joliette, QC. “I mean, it was thanks to my performance right here in Montreal that I was able to renew my deal with Player’s back in the day. And without my Busch series pole position here in June, I wouldn’t be on this podium right now.
“It’s such an honor to represent the Canadiens,” added Carpentier. “What can I say about having Guy Lafleur’s No. 10 on my car? It was the number every kid in my neighborhood wanted to wear when we played street hockey.”
The decision for the Indy and ChampCar veteran to make the move to NASCAR was also an easy one.
“I’ve always preferred an oval track,” explained Carpentier. “When ChampCar left the oval track, I moved to IRL but it got too dangerous. I’ve always been a big oval racing guy, I even did speed skating as a kid and I loved it.”
The charismatic driver, who first built his reputation in the open-wheel races, is not worried about acclimating himself to life in NASCAR’s fast lane.
“The first time I sat behind the wheel of this kind of car, I was racing in the CASCAR series and I’ve got to say it feels like driving a rental car on steroids,” said Carpentier with a smile. “I still don’t know how many races I’ll take part in, but whenever the team wants me in my car, I’ll be ready to go.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com