Carpentier could land full-time Cup ride with Gillett Evernham in '08

9/8/2007 - NASCAR

RICHMOND, VA. -- George Gillett, majority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, said Canadian racer Patrick Carpentier will drive a Cup car for them during the Chase this season and probably will race full time in Cup for GEM next year.

"I think there's a very good chance of that," Gillett told CKAC radio in Montreal. "Patrick is a fine young man and a great driver. He will be in some car for us at some of the races, if not all races, the rest of the season."

Gillett also said the team plans to add a fourth car for some races the rest of this year. Co-owner Ray Evernham said they probably would put Carpentier in a car at the Phoenix race on Nov. 11, the next-to-last race of the season.

GEM has three drivers -- Kasey Kahne in the No. 9 Dodge, Elliott Sadler in the No. 19 and Scott Riggs in the No. 10 car. But Riggs' status for 2008 in uncertain because GEM is considering a merger with Petty Enterprises. That could have an impact on whether Carpentier races for GEM next season.

Carpentier, 36, is a veteran open-wheel driver who raced in Champ Car and the IndyCar Series. He made his NASCAR debut in the inaugural Busch race at Montreal last month, finishing second in a Fitz Motorsports Dodge on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course.

"Patrick will be testing our car at Kentucky Speedway," Gillett said. "If he drives as well on the ovals as we think he will, I think there will be a place for him."

Rangers owner goin' racing?

Nextel Cup team owner Richard Childress said Friday that it's possible Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks will get involved in NASCAR by partnering with an existing team.

Hicks and his sons, Tommy Jr. and Alex, were Childress' guest last weekend at California Speedway.

"They wanted to look at our sport," Childress said. "I know they are doing due diligence on our sport, as all good businessmen would do. I think it would be great if they wanted to get involved. They would be a huge asset."

Childress said Hicks is a friend and he invited him to the race. Hicks was in Southern California because the Rangers were playing the Angels in Anaheim.

But Childress said he isn't looking for another partner at the moment. He has a partner in Chartwell Investments, a New York-based equity firm.

"I only want one partner at the end of the day," Childress said. "There's nothing right not that we're really talking about."

Hicks could not be reached for comment, but he told the Dallas Morning News last weekend that his attendance at the California race was only a social visit.

Hicks and George Gillett are co-owners of the Liverpool, England soccer team. Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadians in the NHL, recently purchased controlling interest in Evernham Motorsports, which changed its name to Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, partnered with Jack Roush at the start of this season to form Roush Fenway Racing.

"NASCAR is a great marketing tool if you own a football team or baseball team," Childress said. "It's a great selling tool for both venues."

Rudd's return in question

Ricky Rudd hopes he hasn't run his last race.

Rudd made his 900th career start last weekend at California Speedway but isn't in the No. 88 Ford this weekend at Richmond.

Rudd separated his left shoulder in a nasty crash during the Sharp AQUOS 500 Sunday night.

"I don't think it's my last race and I'm not planning on that," said Rudd, who is retiring at the end of the season. "But nobody really knows. It could be a week or it could be five of six weeks. I don't have an answer for that.

"I'm going through a rehab. The doctors tell me it's a level 3 separation. At first, I thought that was good news since it wasn't broken, but they told me that's not necessarily so. Torn ligaments are not a good thing compared to a break."

Kenny Wallace is subbing for Rudd while the injury heals. Rudd said his return depends on how he feels and whether he thinks he can drive the car for the entire event.

"I could have gotten out there and a started the race here tomorrow night," he said. "But I don't know I could have made it to the first caution [to make a driver swap]. There wasn't any reason to do that since we're 30th in points."

Rudd's injury happened when his car slammed into the frontstretch wall on the driver's side. He hit a spot on the concrete that doesn't have the SAFER Barrier in front of it.

"I have the injury because I hit the hard wall," Rudd said. "My shoulder got hung up a little under the HANS [head and neck restraint] device. But thankfully I didn't hit my head. That's a real flaw with that car. Your head is almost out in the air stream."

Only five races remain in the old model. The Car of Tomorrow, which the teams are using this weekend and in five of the Chase events, will race full time in 2008.

The driver's seat and steering wheel is moved several inches to the right in the COT model.

"The possibility of banging your head on the wall in the COT is almost nonexistence compared to the old car," Rudd said. "In the old car, your head is less than an inch from the window. In the COT, it's like a foot of clearance."

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.