2008 Ride: No. 10 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge
2008 Primary Sponsors: Valvoline, LifeLock, Charter Communications, Auto Value/Bumper-to-Bumper, Cintas, Berlin City, Sears, Tow Truck in a Box
2008 Owner: George N. Gillett Jr. and Ray Evernham
2008 Crew Chief: Mike Shiplett
Stats: 24 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 1 pole, 5 DNQs, 38th in points
Best Finish: 14th – Daytona, Coke Zero 400
High Point: Sporting the locally recognized sponsor “Berlin City Auto Group,” the native Canadian earned the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Lenox Tools 301 in June before a crowd that heralds the beginning of each race with a rousing rendition of “O, Canada!”
Low Point: Perhaps it’s easier to have a positive outlook for the season when you start at the very bottom of the barrel. Entering into 2008, the No. 10 team was not fortunate enough to have one of the Top 35 guaranteed starting positions for the first five races. That came back to bite them when Patrick Carpentier blew a tire during his Daytona qualifier, ruining his chances for competing in The Great American Race. Misfortune followed him to California, where rain canceled qualifying – leaving him once again sitting on the sidelines. At Las Vegas, his Dodge wrecked out halfway through the race. He managed to finish 35th in Atlanta, but rain returned for qualifying in Bristol, leaving Carpentier outside the Top 35 once again. See? Nowhere to go but up…
Summary: Hoping for a breakout year for this promising rookie, both Gillett Evernham and Carpentier were disappointed by the No. 10’s performance throughout the 2008 season. Finishing third in the Rookie of the Year standings, Carpentier accomplished this questionable accolade by simply outlasting the other three contenders – Michael McDowell, Dario Franchitti and Jacques Villeneuve. Week after week, the multi-sponsored team struggled to turn in a better finishing position than their 25.2 average start.
The Top-35 rule, an unusual number of rained out qualifying events, and NASCAR’s ill-conceived attempt to build international appeal by encouraging teams to fast-forward pointy car drivers into our beefy, brutish stock cars all combined to elbow Carpentier back out onto the unemployment line by October. However, it should be noted that this former IRL and Champ Car winner was not the only international superstar to suffer in 2008.
Also, it can be debated whether it was Carpentier’s abilities behind the wheel that proved largely responsible for the continuing lackluster performance of the No. 10. Scott Riggs, the previous driver for this team, spent 27 races finishing no better than Carpentier in 2007. However, when AJ Allmendinger took over the cockpit for the final five races of the 2008 season, the car finished four out of the five races in the top 16. With the pending Petty-Evernham merger giving Allmendinger an opportunity to stay in the car, the No. 10 team may have finally found the silver lining on their long-lasting cloud…
Off-Track News: Perhaps it’s notable that Carpentier managed to spend the year almost entirely out of the limelight. However, his firing did make news after the driver criticized crew chief Mike Shiplett for lashing out at him following a DNQ at Talladega – a track where equipment trumps driver in time trials nine times out of 10.
2009 Outlook: Carpentier’s website and final press releases in 2008 all indicate this driver has nothing terribly exciting in the pipeline for 2009. There were mentions of interest in a Nationwide contract, but nothing appears to be close to final at this time.
2007 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2008 Grade: D