Two years ago, Patrick Carpentier was out of racing and enjoying life fixing up a farm his family purchased in Canada.
Now he's preparing for his first Daytona 500, and he couldn't be more thrilled.
"I had no ride, I was digging holes and filling them, and now I am down at Daytona waving at Tony Stewart going down pit lane," Carpentier said. "So for me, it's been great. I just love to be part of it and I really enjoy driving the cars. It's a plus, and it's one of the best opportunities I've had in my career."
A former star in Champ Cars and the IndyCar Series, Carpentier decided in 2005 he no longer wanted to race open wheel cars. He participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race in 2006, then had nothing else on his schedule until NASCAR's debut race in Montreal last August.
He won the pole and finished second, wowing the hometown crowd and leading to more seat time with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Then team owner George Gillett hired Carpentier for a full time Cup ride this season.
It's a far cry from where he was this time two years ago.
"We were just fixing the farm up. I had a sugar shack up in the back, and I was playing around with that," he said. "I didn't race. But I came back to racing last year, I did some Grand Am and then the Busch car in Montreal. If you had told me I would have ended up here today, I wouldn't have believed it all.
"It's been an amazing dream."