Kobayashi feeling better prepared for second Cup Series start

Now with a race worth of NASCAR Cup Series experience under his belt, Kamui Kobayashi is ready for another go this weekend at Circuit of The Americas.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Kobayashi (pictured above with 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin). “My first race last year at Indy, I was a little bit surprised, but I think the race went quite smooth. I dropped back in the early stage, and I didn’t get any caution. It was quite difficult in the back end of the field, but I had great fun.”

Kobayashi finished 33rd in his debut on the Indianapolis road course in August, which had one natural caution. NASCAR did not throw cautions at the end of the stage breaks during the road course races in the regular season. Kobayashi was spun twice in Turn 1 at Indianapolis by two different drivers but spoke highly of the experience afterward and his interest in returning to NASCAR.


Sunday, Kobayashi will again be in a third 23XI Racing entry. But this time, it’s the No. 50 Toyota with sponsorship from Mobil 1. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special black and gold paint scheme.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Kobayashi said. “We’ve had more preparation. I’ve raced COTA five times already in Formula 1 and WEC. Indy, it was my first time ever racing there, but [at COTA] I have more experience.”

There will be fewer unknowns for Kobayashi this time around, as has a feel for what the car will do and how to attack the race.

“I learned quite a lot about how you handle the car, how the race goes and how the weekend goes,” he said. “I think the second time, I can manage myself better and I’m putting in the preparation now. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the simulator. We will see.”

Kobayashi has never driven in an Australian Supercars race but believes the NASCAR Next Gen car is close to how that would feel. But it is “way different” from the GT3 cars that he has experience driving.

“We have ABS and traction control. With the Cup car, you really don’t have any sensors taking the data,” Kobayashi said. “I would say the techniques that I’ve learned are way different. When you look throughout different motorsports, you have BOP (balance of performance) and it’s easier for the driver to perform at everything, but in NASCAR, I think you have more of a demand. That’s why I’m happy to be here and challenging myself.”

Kobayashi will benefit from 40 minutes of practice at COTA. Cup Series teams will use the new short track/road course aero package, so NASCAR has granted additional track time for Saturday. The green flag is Sunday after 3:30pm ET.

Story originally appeared on Racer