Former Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Indianapolis in August.
Toyota and 23XI Racing announced Wednesday that Kobayashi will drive a third car for the team on August 13 at IMS Speedway. Kobayashi will be the second Japanese driver to compete in the Cup Series and the first Toyota driver to do so.
Kobayashi drove 75 Formula 1 races between 2009 and 2014. His best result came in 2012 when he finished third at the Japanese Grand Prix for Sauber behind Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa.
“Kamui shares the passion for motorsports that Toyota and all of us at TRD USA experience every day, so it will be exciting to have him show up to our NASCAR program with him behind the wheel of our TRD Camry,” said Toyota Racing Development President. David Wilson. he said in a statement.
Kobayashi, 36, has been racing sports cars since his F1 career ended and his teams have never finished lower than eighth in any of their 11 IMSA appearances. Kobayashi drove for Wayne Taylor Racing in the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24s as the team won consecutive titles. WTR won the 2019 Rolex 24 with Fernando Alonso as part of a four-driver team and IndyCar’s Scott Dixon was part of the 2020 title-winning team.
Kobayashi’s NASCAR debut was announced ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend at Le Mans. Kobayashi is driving for Toyota in drag races and NASCAR is fielding a Cup Series prototype car that will be driven by Jimmie Johnson, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller.
Kobayashi’s race will be the second time this season that 23XI has fielded a third car. The team entered three cars in the Daytona 500 when Travis Pastrana raced in the season opener. Pastrana finished 11th in the 500 after starting last.
Kobayashi will also be the third former F1 driver to compete in the Cup Series this season. Button and Kimi Räikkönen both raced in COTA.