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Kobayashi and Kvyat to make return to stock cars at COTA

Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, lead the field to an overtime restart during the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2023 in Austin, Texas. Kamui Kobayashi Daniil Kvyat

Former F1 and current WEC drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Daniil Kvyat will return to NASCAR next weekend at Circuit of the America’s.

Two drivers who have raced around Circuit of the America’s in Formula One will return, this time with fenders. Former F1 driver and team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing, Kamui Kobayashi will make his second start in the Cup Series. Daniil Kvyat, former Red Bull Racing F1 driver, now driving for Lamborghini in the World Endurance Championship, will join the Xfinity Series.

Kamui Kobayashi’s Background:

Kamui Kobayashi began racing in karts at age nine. At seventeen, he began his open-wheel car, joining Toyota’s driver academy. He worked his way up the Formula ladder, winning in GP2. In 2007 he would become the reserve driver for Toyota’s F1 program. He made his debut in 2009 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing sixth and scoring his first points in Formula One.

Toyota would withdraw from F1 at the end of 2009, and Kobayashi would move to Sauber, where he would race for three seasons. Trying something new in 2013, he would compete in his first 24 hours of Le Mans, driving a Ferarri 458-GTE and finishing fifth in class. Returning to F1 in 2014, he would make starts for Caterham, but would not finish the season. In 2015, he would race in Super Formula, and in 2016 join Toyota Gazoo Racing in the WEC. In 2024, he will compete for both series titles.

Kobayashi took part in the first US Grand Prix at the track and has three podium finishes in LMP1 at COTA when it was a part of the World Endurance Championship. Kamui raced during the 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, alongside other international racing stars. He qualified 26th and finished 33rd.

Kobayashi will be driving the #50 Toyota Camry for 23XI Racing. Sponsor, Mobil-1 is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024, and the car will be black and gold to celebrate. No scheme has been released yet.

Daniil Kvyat’s Background:

Daniil Kvyat began his karting career in 2005, at ten years old. In 2010, he would begin his climb up the formula ladder, starting in Formula BMW. In 2013, while racing in GP3, he would receive an invite to join Formula One by Helmut Marko, head of the Red Bull Junior program. 2014, He would race for Toro Rosso, then move up to Red Bull for 2015 and 2016, then back down to Toro Rosso for the remainder of 2016 and the full 2017 season. In 2018, he was the third driver at Ferrari. He would again return to Toro Rosso for 2019, and the team’s rebrand to Alpha Tauri in 2020. He would join Alpine in 2021 as a reserve driver.

Since departing F1, Kvyat has tried several other forms of motorsport. He tested a Formula E car in April of 2023 and has since found himself a home in the World Endurance Championship since 2022. In 2023, he raced an LMP2 car for Prema, alongside current F1 Academy driver Doriane Pin. This year, he will compete for Lamborghini in the WEC with their new HyperCar entry, the SC63.

Kvyat made three starts in the Cup Series in 2022. Racing for Team Hezeburg, he would race Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, and the Roval. He also made an Xfinity Series start for Sam Hunt Racing at the Roval in 2022. He qualified 24th and walked away with a fifteenth-place finish. Great for his first start in the series.

This year, returning to the Xfinity Series, he will drive the #07 Chevy Camaro for SS Greenlight Racing. GOTRAX will sponsor, but no paint scheme has been released.

How will Kobayashi and Kvyat fare at COTA?

While both drivers have started in the Cup Series, COTA is a different animal. The wide first turn, known as ‘Big Red’, has drivers racing elbows out. Alongside tight turns and passing zones means that aggression will continue all race. Last year, Jenson Button was amazed at how aggressive the Cup Series drivers were, calling it an F1 season in one race.

Kobayashi and Kvyat are likely racing to prepare themselves for the Lone Star Le Mans on September 1st. Kobayashi and Kvyat have experience at COTA in Formula One, and Kobayashi also with WEC. 23XI is the team defending the win with Tyler Reddick so I expect Kamui to have a fast Camry. Will he have the ability to drive in the top five in the Cup Series, probably not. Top fifteen, highly likely.

Kvyat did extremely well for his first and only Xfinity Series start, earning a top fifteen. But that was with Sam Hunt Racing, which is a Joe Gibbs Racing aligned team. Currently, that car being driven by Patrick Emerling has not finished inside the top fifteen in four races of the season. Kvyat will have his hands full trying to best his best Xfinity Series finish.

Watch and see how these two, former, Formula 1 drivers handle Circuit of the America’s in a NASCAR Stock Car. The Echo Park Grand Prix begins at 3:30 PM ET next Sunday, March 24th.





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