NASCAR: Who is 23XI Racing’s new driver for Indianapolis?

Travis Pastrana, 23XI Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Pastrana, 23XI Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, 23XI Racing are set to bring in a new driver for their third entry.

23XI Racing opened up the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season with three entries for the first time since entering the series in 2021, adding the No. 67 Toyota for Travis Pastrana to compete in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 67 Toyota is a non-chartered entry which has not appeared in a Cup Series race since Pastrana’s 11th place finish in his series debut back in February, but it is set to return this weekend.

Former Formula 1 driver, two-time FIA World Endurance Championship champion, and 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi is set to compete in Sunday afternoon’s 82-lap Verizon 200 at The Brickyard around the 13-turn, 2.439-mile (3.925-kilometer) Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The 36-year-old Japanese driver has been a Toyota driver for several years, so 23XI Racing was a natural fit. He competed for Toyota Gazoo Racing en route to winning his two World Endurance Championship titles, as well as the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans.

There have only ever been four Japanese drivers who have competed in NASCAR, and only one, that being Hideo Fukuyama, has ever made a Cup Series start.

Back in 2002 and 2003, Fukuyama made four starts in the series, but Kobayashi is set to become the first Japanese driver to compete for Toyota. Fukuyama competed for Ford.

23XI Racing are one of a number of teams that have recently added a third entry to give internationally renowned race car drivers the chance to compete at NASCAR’s highest level.

Trackhouse Racing Team have done so on multiple occasions through PROJECT91, which is set to return this weekend with Chicago race winner Shane van Gisbergen behind the wheel of the No. 91 Chevrolet, while Richard Childress Racing are also set to do so this weekend, adding the No. 33 Chevrolet for another Australian Supercars driver in Brodie Kostecki.

DraftKings Sportsbook, which is currently offering fans an instant $150 just for signing up and betting $5, lists Kobayashi at +3500 to win Sunday’s race.

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NBC is set to broadcast the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 13. If you have not yet begun a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!