A note of interest on the entry list for Friday's Nationwide Series race at Darlington surfaced earlier this week. SK Motorsports announced that Patrick Carpentier, a Rookie of the Year contender in the Sprint Cup Series ranks in 2008, replaces the team's regular driver, David Green, in a one-off deal.
A shakeup in the cockpit is not surprising for the No. 07 team. Through the season's first nine races, Green has scored only one top 15 finish.
But this is Darlington, meaning the Nationwide Series is tackling NASCAR's most difficult oval on Friday.
SK Motorsports' decision to yank the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion and a veteran driver in Green for Carpentier, who has made only one Darlington start in his two-year stock car career and who hasn't raced in NASCAR all season is perplexing at best.
The decision doesn't appear to be sponsor-driven. As of Thursday night, no announcement regarding a partner for the unsponsored No. 07 team has been issued.
That leaves performance on the track as the deciding factor. There, Carpentier doesn't come close to stacking up to Green.
Carpentier made his only Darlington start last season at the Cup level. He was fast in the early going, but after heavy contact with the wall and lengthy pit work for repairs, the former open-wheeler was mired in traffic until his engine expired.
The 40th place finish was far from sterling.
As for Green, while his resume at Darlington suggests that the Lady in Black is not one of his best tracks, it offers far more hope than an inexperienced stock car driver with one race under his belt.
Green has made 24 starts in his Nationwide Series career at Darlington, with five top-10 finishes to his credit.
More importantly, Green's career average finish at the track is in the top 20, and he has scored four lead lap finishes in his last five starts.
Green likely would not have contended for the win on Friday, but he more than likely would have finished.
And that's all the No. 07 team needs on the treacherous egg-shaped circuit this weekend.
Though they sit in the top 25 in the owner points, the No. 07 team has less than a 100 point cushion over 31st, the owner's point cutoff between racing into the field and being locked in to the race.
If you go by the numbers where Carpentier and Green finish on average, that's a 60-point swing this weekend alone (43 points for 40th, 103 for 20th).
Plus, as team owner Armando Fitz should know after last year, driver by committee is not conducive to improving a team's performance on the track.
Last year, Fitz's No. 22 car scored four top-15 finishes in the season's first six races with Mike Bliss behind the wheel.
After Bliss left and Fitz allowed his car's seat to become a revolving door, his team posted four more top 15s—in the season's final 29 races.
With SK Motorsports being a new operation, it is hard to fathom why the team would throw the consistency of having a past champion in their car who's been there all year away to give a driver still in the infancy of a stock car career the keys.
This isn't meant to be a knock on Carpentier. He got the short end of the stick considering his efforts at Gillett-Evernham Motorsports last year.
But it's likely going to be SK Motorsports getting the short end of this deal.
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