The outing will be Kobayashi’s first in any of NASCAR’s three national series, having spent his career to date in Formula 1, the FIA World Endurance Championship and Super Formula, among others. Kobayashi’s debut at Indianapolis will come on Aug. 13, race 24 of 36 for the 2023 Cup Series season.
“I think NASCAR is kind of like baseball,” Kobayashi said during the announcement, made at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. “It’s something different in the culture of motorsports compared to Japan and Europe, and it’s NASCAR, and as a driver, it’s an American dream.
“I was lucky as I was able to race in IMSA the last couple of years. It’s a different way of racing, but I think as racing technology, it’s really at a high level. I really appreciate this opportunity from TRD, U.S.A., and of course, Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Gazoo Racing. For us, especially the Japanese people, Toyota has been in NASCAR for a while, annd I don’t think any other Japanese driver has been in a Toyota racing in the Cup Series. I’m very proud of this opportunity.”
Kobayashi is in Le Mans preparing for the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans, which he will contest in Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Entry. Despite his racing history being based in Europe and Japan, the Japanese driver is excited to try his hand at the “rubbing’s racing” style of NASCAR.
“Actually, I like this type of racing because you bump each other all the time, and you have to be very sharp on the start, otherwise, you lose all the momentum, and you’re going backwards, and you have no chance,” Kobayashi revealed during the announcement. “I think the way they race is different, but I like it because I think this is something the driver brings instead of the car bringing something.”
Kobayashi is the second driver to make a one-off appearance in the No. 67 Toyota after Travis Pastrana collected an 11th-place finish in the Daytona 500, his only appearance in the 2023 Cup Series season.
About the author
Alex is the IndyCar Editor at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also Co-founded The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region, in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.