NASCAR: Ex-F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi to make Cup Series debut at Indianapolis

LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 07:  Kamui Kobayashi of Japan poses next to the #67 Toyota Camry TRD car he will drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this year in a press conference ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe June 7, 2023 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kamui Kobayashi made 75 Formula 1 starts from 2009-2014. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Former Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Indianapolis in August.

Toyota and 23XI Racing announced Wednesday that Kobayashi would drive a third car for the team at the IMS road course on Aug. 13. Kobayashi will be the second Japanese driver to race in the Cup Series and the first to do so while driving a Toyota.

Kobayashi made 75 Formula 1 starts from 2009-2014. His best finish came in 2012 when he finished third in the Japanese Grand Prix for Sauber behind Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa.

"Kamui shares the passion for motorsports that all of us at Toyota and TRD, U.S.A. live every day so it will be exciting to show him our NASCAR program with him behind the wheel of one of our TRD Camrys," Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said in a statement.

Kobayashi, 36, has been racing sports cars since his F1 career ended and his teams have never finished lower than eighth in any of his 11 IMSA starts. Kobayashi drove for Wayne Taylor Racing in the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24s as the team scored back-to-back titles. WTR won the 2019 Rolex 24 with Fernando Alonso as part of the four-driver team and IndyCar’s Scott Dixon was a part of the 2020 title-winning team.

The announcement of Kobayashi’s NASCAR debut came at Le Mans ahead of this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kobayashi is driving for Toyota in the endurance race and NASCAR is fielding a Cup Series prototype car in the race that will be driven by Jimmie Johnson, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller.

Kobayashi's race will be the second time this season that 23XI has fielded a third car. The team entered three cars into the Daytona 500 as Travis Pastrana raced in the season-opener. Pastrana finished 11th in the 500 after starting last.

Kobayashi will also be the third former F1 driver to make a Cup Series start this season. Both Button and Kimi Raikkonen raced at COTA.