Double whammy

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

The news just got worse for Canada's Patrick Carpentier, who is trying his best to keep a job in the NASCAR Sprint Cup loop.

First off, on Tuesday, Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that the team had signed a multi-year deal with 22-year-old Reed Sorenson to drive in the Sprint Cup series starting in 2009.

GEM has three Dodges -- Carpentier's No. 10, Elliott Sadler's No. 19 and Kasey Kahne's No. 9 -- and Carpentier is the only one without a contract for next season.

While team officials made all kinds of noise about still "looking for sponsorship" for the Canadian, the writing is pretty much on the wall that Carpentier is outta there.

Wonder how George Gillett -- owner of the Montreal Canadiens -- is going to sell this one to the hometown fans who worship Carpentier like a rock star?

Carpentier, meanwhile, has been in discussion with other Cup teams interested in his services. After all, in just one season, the 37-year-old native of the Montreal suburb of Joliette, has become one of the best qualifiers on the circuit.

He even earned a Coors Light Pole award at New Hampshire which would have made him an automatic entry into the 2009 Bud Shootout at Daytona next February.

That in itself was said to be worth about $1 million US in sponsorship dough.

But yesterday NASCAR bosses pulled the rug out from under Carpentier on that deal too.

Everyone should have seen it coming though.

Budweiser had cancelled its deal to sponsor the pole winner's award this season and was replaced by rival Molson-Coors. But the Bud guys hung on to the Bud Shootout sponsorship and demanded that NASCAR change the rules so that Coors Light winners were kicked out.

Of course, NASCAR bowed to their demands and changed the format, leaving -- among others -- Carpentier on the sidelines looking in.

Jim Hunter, NASCAR's guru of information, said that it was all in the name of making the competition better.

"(Carpentier missing the cut) is one of the downsides," Hunter said yesterday. "By the same token, it's still performance driven.

"But change occurs and this is a non-points event, this is a special event, so we'll move forward with it."

Believe that and you get a head-table invitation to the banquet that will honour Michael Waltrip when he wins the 2008 Sprint Cup championship.

SHERIFF VISITS FITZ

Andrew Ranger was the talk of the NASCAR Nationwide garage after wheeling his No. 22 Fitz Motorsports Dodge to 19th place from 39th at Bristol Motor Speedway last Friday night.

The 21-year-old native of Roxton Pond, Que., earned himself a seat in NASCAR's second-tier series for the remainder of the season, which under ordinary circumstances would be a huge deal.

But yesterday it was revealed that the Iredell County sheriff in North Carolina had seized three of Fitz Motorsports Dodges after a judgment was filed against the team by former driver Joel Kauffman, who claims he hasn't been fully paid by the team after it fired him part way through the 2007 season.

Fitz admits he owes Kauffman money, but said he was in the process of paying it when he was hit with the sheriff's order to auction off the cars.

Ranger's agent, Alan Labrosse of Montreal, told the Journal de Montreal yesterday that the team has assured him the Kauffman case won't hinder Ranger's deal.

"I talked to general manager Bill Farnsworth and he assured me that all three cars in question were not in the rotation of those that Andrew would be driving," Labrosse said. "It should not change the program for Andrew."

BOURDAIS ON HOT SEAT

Four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais learned yesterday that his Scuderia Toro Rosso team has signed Sebastien Buemi to test for the team with the view that he will start the 2009 season in Formula One.

Not only that, but the GP2 race winner is a Red Bull junior driver who is said to be a favourite of the sponsor's motor sports boss Helmut Marko.

It looks as if Bourdais' only hope is to make a splash in the few remaining races on the F-1 calendar, forcing the team to keep him in the seat.

Also being considered are the former Super Aguri pairing Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson.


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