Kamui Kobayashi Is Headed Back to NASCAR

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Kamui Kobayashi Is Headed Back to NASCARSean Gardner - Getty Images

It would be an understatement to say that Kamui Kobayashi is the most important driver in the history of Toyota's wildly successful Le Mans program. Not only has Kobayashi long served as both the qualifying and race-closing driver for the team's lead car, he has actually run the operation since he was promoted to team principal at the end of the 2021 season. He is a two-time FIA World Endurance champion, a Le Mans winner, the all-time track record holder at the Circuit de la Sarthe, and an overall winner in both of his first two attempts at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Along with all of that, Kobayashi still wants to be a NASCAR driver, too.

Kobayashi is set to run in NASCAR again this season, once again entering a third car for 23XI Racing. He will run at least the season's first road course round at the Circuit of the Americas, his second start in a stock car of any sort after debuting at Indianapolis last year. He started 28th in that race and made a brief charge through the middle of the field, but he finished 33rd after receiving some questionable contact from 2023 Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The race at COTA is set for March 24. Kobayashi is expected to be joined by a few other notable road course specialists in the field, including 2023 race winner Shane van Gisbergen. The former Supercars driver won his first-ever race in a stock car at Chicago last year and has since joined Trackhouse Racing as a 34-year-old NASCAR development driver building his way up to a full Cup schedule.

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