Toyota Gazoo Racing driver and team principal Kamui Kobayashi will make his first start in the NASCAR Cup Series this August at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 2021 Le Mans overall winner and two-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner will drive an 23XI Racing-run No. 67 Toyota Camry in this year’s 200 Miles at the Brickyard on Aug. 13 — part of a doubleheader weekend with IndyCar in which both series will share the IMS road course.
“NASCAR is something different in the culture of motorsports compared to Japan and Europe — as a driver, it’s the American dream,” said Kobayashi at today’s announcement at Le Mans, where he is hoping to help score Toyota its sixth win in a row at the Circuit de la Sarthethis weekend.
“I was lucky to be able to race in IMSA the last couple of years. It’s a different form of racing, but I think the racing technology is at a high level. I really appreciate this opportunity from TRD USA and of course Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Gazoo Racing. Toyota has been racing in NASCAR for a long time, but I don’t think any other Japanese driver has raced a Toyota in the Cup Series. I’m very proud of this opportunity.”
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In fact, it will mark the first time in 20 years that a Japanese national will start a NASCAR Cup Series race. The last to do so was Hideo Fukuyama, who made four starts in the Cup Series between 2002-03 — and who, like Kobayashi, was also a successful driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a GT class win in 2000.
David Wilson, president of TRD, U.S.A., driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan and Jim France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO, with the No. 67 Toyota Camry TRD car Kobayashi will drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s truly an honor to have Kamui want to participate in our NASCAR Cup Series program, and we’re thrilled that we could work with our partners at 23XI Racing to give him a competitive Camry TRD for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course event,” said David Wilson, president of TRD USA. “Kamui shares the passion for motorsports that all of us at Toyota and TRD USA live every day so it will be exciting to show him our NASCAR program with him behind the wheel of one of our TRD Camrys.”
Kobayashi’s one-off appearance follows those of Jenson Button, Mike Rockenfeller and Jordan Taylor who have all made recent guest NASCAR starts.