- David Newton, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter
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CONCORD, N.C. -- Patrick Carpentier will be put on the fast track to drive full time in the Nextel Cup series for Gillett Evernham Motorsports next season.
Minority owner Ray Evernham hopes to get the former Champ Car star into two Busch Series and two Cup events before the end of the season, beginning at Martinsville Speedway in two weeks.
Evernham said Carpentier also will drive at least a partial schedule next season in the Nationwide Series, now the Busch Series.
"We're pretty relaxed on the plan because we don't have a plan," Evernham said on Wednesday. "We don't have to have a program in place by Daytona."
Carpentier has been cleared by NASCAR to run a Cup event at every track but Daytona and Talladega. He could be approved for Daytona by competing in the ARCA or Busch race before the 500.
"We'll do whatever we need to," Evernham said. "He's a great race driver. He's smart. He communicates well with the team. I haven't really worked with him much, but I know a lot about him and I know in a short time if most drivers don't get it, they don't.
"Patrick gets it."
Carpentier will fill the third car at EMS being vacated by Scott Riggs, who last week signed with Haas GNC Racing.
Evernham said there are no plans to put Carpentier in Riggs' car the remainder of this season, saying Carpentier will drive the No. 98 test team car.
Carpentier joins Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve and Dario Franchitti as open wheel drivers making the jump to NASCAR. He was the top choice of majority owner George Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadiens NHL team.
He made his Cup debut earlier this year at the road course at Watkins Glen, leading seven laps. He won the pole and finished second in the Busch Series road course race in Montreal.
Evernham said sponsorship played a big role in signing Carpentier, noting the sponsor probably will come from the Montreal market because of Gillett's connections.
"But when you've got guys that are not proven it certainly makes a difference."
David Newton covers motorsports for ESPN.com.
Former Champ car star Patrick Carpentier finalized a deal Wednesday to drive for Gillett Evernham Motorsports next season.