WATKINS GLEN, New York -- This is a tale of two Canadians, one making his 11th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Centurion Boats at The Glen today and the other making only his second.
For Ron Fellows, Watkins Glen International is like visiting an old friend and knowing it may be a final opportunity to top off a career devoid of only one mark -- a NASCAR Cup win.
For Patrick Carpentier it is a chance to show his rookie success so far in 2008 is the real deal and that he deserves to be in stock car racing's top loop again in 2009.
Fellows, at 48 years old, is coming off a NASCAR Nationwide Series win last week in Montreal where he celebrated with unbounded enthusiasm saying: "Hey, you never know when we'll get another chance to do this (win)."
Carpentier, who finished second to Fellows, said yesterday that he would have loved to win at his home track but if he had to lose to anybody he was glad that it was Fellows.
"He's just such a nice guy," Carpentier said.
But the pair couldn't be on more divergent career paths.
Fellows, while still a threat to win every race he enters, clearly is nearing the sunset stage of a Hall of Fame career, while Carpentier at 37, could still be racing in Sprint Cup another 10 years.
But that will depend on negotiations that are now at the critical stage between the native of the Montreal suburb of Joliette, and Ray Evernham and George Gillett Jr., co-owners of Gillett Evernham Motorsports where Carpentier has been driving the No. 10 Dodge this season.
Carpentier said that he hopes a deal can be done by next week.
"I really hope that it comes out positive. I think Gillett Evernham is pretty happy (with me)," he said.
"I like being here and I like driving this car. We've improved so much since the beginning of the year with the guys on the team and (crew chief) Mike Shiplett (team director)."
What will help is that Carpentier has a Sprint Cup pole award -- from the June New Hampshire race -- that is like money in the bank for NASCAR teams as it gives him an automatic invite to the Bud Shootout next February to kick off the Daytona 500 week of racing.
It's one of the biggest stages of the year in stock car racing and one where major sponsors clamour to get on cars. It's been rumoured that a Bud Shootout start can mean as much as $1 million in sponsorship money for a Sprint Cup team.
So should GEM not re-sign Carpentier there is likely to be a line-up of teams wanting his name on their car.
He admitted as much earlier this week saying he already had fielded calls from teams wanting to know his contract status.
"I've had a couple teams approach me, but we told them that we can't talk until after Aug. 15," Carpentier said.
Fellows has few financial worries having had a very lucrative past 20 years in motor racing that will keep him and is family well taken care of, if and when he ever decides to get out of the car.
Ambrose wins Zippo 200
Yesterday's Nationwide series Zippo 200 was won by Australian Marcos Ambrose in the No. 59 Ford.
Kyle Busch finished second in the No. 92 Toyota and Matt Kenseth finished third in the No. 17 Ford.