This week, the most successful Russian driver in Formula 1, Daniil Kvyat, will hold his first race in the American NASCAR Cup Series championship in Indianapolis. And this is just the beginning: the performances of the Russian in Watkins Glen and at the “roval” in Charlotte have already been confirmed.

We figure out what to expect from Kvyat in the new championship and what difficulties he will have on the way.

Daniel discovers America

Rumors about Kvyat’s interest in NASCAR have been around for a long time: he once attended a race in Martinsville, and most recently tested on a short track in Hickory. Those races were more introductory than preparatory in nature, since Daniil piloted a Late Model car, one of the younger series of stock cars.

At the same time, there were fears that, against the backdrop of the tragic events in Ukraine, the debut would not take place for political reasons, however, NASCAR, apparently, turned out to be independent from the FIA, and there were no problems with obtaining a license: the association itself issues its own licenses. Accordingly, this weekend at the legendary circuit in Indianapolis, the Russian will get acquainted with the NASCAR Cup Series vehicles in combat mode.

The moment for the debut was chosen as the most successful: this race will be held on a road track built inside the oval for Formula 1. Stages in Watkins Glen (August 21) and Charlotte (October 9) will also be held on tracks more or less familiar to Kvyat format. Daniil will not perform at the ovals this year, and the main task of the Russian is to get acquainted with the technique and get used to it.

There will be no big tasks for the Russian this weekend, especially since Kvyat will have to perform as part of a small Team Hezeberg team. It was founded in October last year by the Dutch ex-pilot of endurance races Toine Hesemans (he won the 24 Hours of Spa and 24 Hours of Daytona, and also excelled in the TS 5.0 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1973) – for his son Loris, who, after two championship titles in the European NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, decided to try his hand at America.

Stage of the NASCAR Cup Series at “Road America”

Photo: Logan Riely/Getty Images

In the Cup Series, Loris spent two races this year, but in Austin he took 34th place, and at Road America – 37th. In total, Team Hezeberg has only three starts so far – in addition to these two races, the team put up a car for Jacques Villeneuve in the 500 miles of Daytona (the Canadian finished 22nd).

“NASCAR stock cars are very different from open-wheel cars, so it’s hard to expect anything specific from Kvyat in Indianapolis. He will ride for a team that competes in the Cup Series on a limited schedule, and she wants to make a name for herself in these races, said Bob Pokrass, an authoritative American journalist, in a commentary for the Championship. “A good result in Indianapolis would be for him to just get to the finish line, get out of trouble in the fight against rivals and understand how these cars handle and react. Fans will primarily follow their favorite pilots and fight in the championship, but Kvyat’s performance will be an additional intrigue.”

Plans are far-reaching

Apparently, these three Kvyat races are just the beginning, and Daniil intends to seriously build a career in America. “I want to be competitive in these races – after Formula 1, I have not seen anything cooler than NASCAR! — said the Russian publication Racer. “These races have a rich history and are very popular both in America and around the world. I got curious to try it. These are tough races where tough guys fight at the highest level. I am open to ovals and will try to rebuild because I want to achieve maximum results and one day compete for the championship.

The Russian’s approach contrasts with that of Kimi Raikkonen – he will also perform in Watkins Glen, but for the Finn this is a one-time action, the 42-year-old veteran has not yet expressed his intentions to build a career in NASCAR, although pilots sometimes performed in these races up to more than 50 years ( Mark Martin stopped active career only at 54!).

Stage of the NASCAR Cup Series in Pocono

Stage of the NASCAR Cup Series in Pocono

Photo: Logan Riely/Getty Images

At the same time, the fact is that Kvyat has a long way to go to fight against the leaders of the NASCAR Cup Series. Local racers have been preparing for these races since childhood, they have driven stock cars in the junior series and know the tracks much better, including the road ones. Not to mention the fact that Team Hezeberg is not yet a year old and it is still beyond its strength to fight the mastodons – Hendrick, Joe Gibbs and Penske.

But there are other examples – the same Trackhouse, for example, for which Raikkonen will play. It was founded in 2020, on the wreckage of Leavine Family Racing, but due to the competent leadership of Justin Marks, it almost immediately became competitive, and Ross Chastain won the sixth race in the history of the team. Later, Ross added victory at Talladega to the first place in Austin and guaranteed himself a place in the playoffs, while co-pilot Daniel Suarez won in Sonoma and also with a high degree of probability will make it to the final series. In other words, with proper leadership in individual races, even small novice teams are able to fight with the giants on an equal footing.

Chastain's victory after the leaders collided at the finish of the Talladega race

Chastain’s victory after the leaders collided at the finish of the Talladega race

Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

One way or another, at the moment it is impossible to predict how Kvyat will turn out in NASCAR, but it can be assumed that his aggressive style will appeal to the American public. If speed is added to this, then Kvyat will have every chance to break into the elite of American racing.

It is symbolic that in NASCAR Daniil will act under number 26, with whom he raced in Formula 1, and the announcement of participation in the race in Indianapolis was made on July 26 – the anniversary of the Russian podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix 2015. There are no podiums in NASCAR, instead there is a ceremony on Winners Alley featuring the team that won the race. Let’s believe that the question of Kvyat’s appearance there is a matter of time.

Scandal in America: the team extended the champion, and he immediately left and accused of forgery!
Scandal in America: the team extended the champion, and he immediately left and accused of forgery!

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