Freewheel/NASCAR pipeline appears to be active and thriving again as Jacques Villeneuve adds a Daytona 500 to his resume and Kimi Raikkonen getting ready for her young daughter Cup Series beginning. Now, Daniel Kvyat wants to join his companion Formula One alumni in stock cars.
Kvyat attended last weekend’s Cup race at Road America as a guest of Hezeberg Teamwho will field Ford #27 for Loris Hezemans and Villeneuve. A long-time fan of the sport, Kvyat has already stopped Martinsville Motor Speedway to test the waters and drove a Whelen Euro Series car, whose last EuroNASCAR PRO championship was won by Hezemans in 2021.
Speaking to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass on Saturday, Kvyat confirmed he has received approval from NASCAR to race if he finds a ride, which he hopes to do to stage a Cup road event.
“It’s different but a very fascinating world for me,” Kvyat told Pockrass. “I’ve always really loved NASCAR and was very curious about it. In fact, I was in Martinsville last year to watch the race, now this year I’ve come looking for opportunities to race here. I think that something could come to life hopefully very soon, and soon you’ll see it in a NASCAR Cup car.
“We kind of started talking with Josh (Reaume, technical partner of Team Hezeberg) and his team a few months ago. It seemed like there was an opportunity here, they are ready to give me a chance here. It would be amazing to have an opportunity here in NASCAR, show my face here and thrive here, especially because obviously I want to talk on the track and start gaining experience here.
“I’m trying to see how the race weekend is going with the team, how the driver is doing, what’s the track time, those little details so it’s not a big surprise once it’s my turn to drive.”
Kvyat raced in Formula 1 with Scuderia Alpha Tauri and Running of the red bulls from 2014 to 2020, during which he notched two podiums and a championship best finish of seventh in 2017. He left the Red Bull organization after a fourteenth place in points with AlphaTauri in 2020 and became a reserve for F1 alpine.
For 2022, he was to debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship with G-Drive Racing before the FIA imposed sanctions on Russian entities and drivers for their country’s invasion of Ukraine. Kvyat spoke out against the dispute, but also described the FIA’s rulings, which notably banned Russian drivers from racing under their country’s flag, as discriminatory and unfair. Many Russian drivers have lost their places in international series like another F1 competitor Nikita Mazepinwhich has since transitioned to off-roading.
While NASCAR is linked to the FIA by liaison ACCUSED (Automobile Competition Committee for the United States), this is a private sanctioning body that is not bound to follow the decisions of the FIA. Also, nationalities do not carry a particularly heavy weight in the US Cup Series compared to international events.
There are three other Cup road races for Kvyat to target: Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 31, Watkins Glen International August 21, and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval October 9. While such tracks are a no-brainer for someone who grew up racing on the circuit, he is more than willing to do ovals.
“I think the most sensible idea would be to race on a normal road course because that’s the one I know best,” He continued. “But of course, one day, I would like to do the program full time here. So it would be great to start gaining experience on the ovals. I’m really open-minded, I’ve always really liked NASCAR. One day, I hope to be able to make the full season and I hope to win it one day.
If Kvyat is able to race in 2022, the Cup Series will feature four F1 drivers as he joins Räikkönen and Villeneuve as well as Marks of Tarso, which is also aiming to debut at Watkins Glen. Also from the world of single-seaters, the veterans of the IndyCar series Tony Kanan, Marco Andrettiand Helio Castroneves have expressed interest in NASCAR, with Kanaan in negotiations to host two NASCAR road races while Castroneves hopes to race the 2023 Daytona 500 as a reward for winning the SRX season opener in June. Former Formula 2 driver Matteo Nannini looked ARCA Ménards series competition.
Is it the 2000s again? Is another open-wheel invasion upon us?