The Trackhouse group run by Justin Marks and co-owned by rapper Pitbull already fields two Cup Sequence entries for Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, however plans to enter its #91 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at least once during the remainder of this Cup season. It intends to broaden this system sooner or later.
“Mission 91’s mission is to activate the intersection level of NASCAR racing and world motorsport tradition,” stated Marks.
“I actually imagine the Subsequent Gen automobile represents a chance for NASCAR to enter the worldwide skilled motorsport dialog.
“We now have a race automobile with worldwide technological relevance the place world-class drivers from different disciplines can compete at NASCAR’s highest degree with out the steep studying curve that the earlier technology vehicles required.”
However who ought to the group decide to drive it? Motorsport.com’s writers have picked out their candidates.
Patricio O’Ward – by Jim Utter
Patricio O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Photograph by: Motorsport Images
As soon as once more Trackhouse Racing is exhibiting the way it’s a ‘disrupter’ within the NASCAR Cup Sequence by making a part-time third entry to supply worldwide motorsport stars the prospect to compete in NASCAR’s premier collection. Discuss an attention-getter. Crossover tales – whether or not in sports activities on the whole or simply inside motorsports disciplines – at all times create a buzz and normally cater to a a lot bigger swathe of followers. That’s positive to occur right here.
As for Trackhouse’s first driver to put in its Mission 91 entry this 12 months, I feel it might be a little bit of an apparent alternative – IndyCar race-winner Pato O’Ward. The Mexican is shut mates with present Trackhouse Cup driver Daniel Suarez. The 2 have raced collectively already – notably each have been members of the Race of Champions entry from Mexico in 2019. As well as, O’Ward already runs with Chevrolet energy within the IndyCar Sequence for Arrow McLaren SP, which ought to stop any producer conflicts.
Other than O’Ward, and dipping into the massive ‘What if?’ class, why not supply Method 1 standout Lewis Hamilton his first alternative to race in NASCAR? Prior to now, the seven-time world champion has talked about a want to sooner or later run the Daytona 500, however an opportunity to compete on the highway course at Watkins Glen could also be very tempting. It actually doesn’t harm to ask.
Scott McLaughlin – by Nick DeGroot
Scott McLaughlin, Crew Penske Chevrolet
Photograph by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images
The transfer by Trackhouse Racing to open up a 3rd entry to worldwide racing stars is a superb one, and has me excited to see who they will seize. Motorsport crossovers by no means fail to garner a variety of consideration, from easy experience swaps to full-on profession modifications. Simply take a look at the fanfare round Jimmie Johnson or Romain Grosjean on any given IndyCar race weekend.
In the event that they actually wish to go massive, Method 1 is the place Trackhouse ought to look. Daniel Ricciardo could be a good selection, as a long-time follower of NASCAR and somebody who has made a number of tributes to the late nice Dale Earnhardt. However with the ever-growing F1 schedule, there aren’t many alternatives to spend a weekend away at a NASCAR observe. The perfect place for Ricciardo to run could be at a highway course and the Cup Sequence simply so occurs to go to Watkins Glen throughout the F1 summer time break in August.
Though an F1 star would draw probably the most publicity, IndyCar is rather more lifelike and nearer to the NASCAR world. My decide? Three-time Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin, one other driver who has expressed curiosity in working inventory vehicles prior to now. He even did a demo run in a Team Penske Cup automobile on the Surfers Paradise Supercars spherical a number of years again.
The Kiwi got here Stateside for a brand new problem, and has already discovered success in IndyCar together with his victory at St. Petersburg earlier this 12 months. There are many off-weekends on the IndyCar schedule, so why not give NASCAR a strive?
Nick Tandy – by Kevin Turner
#64 Corvette Racing Chevrolet C8.R LMGTE Professional – Nick Tandy
Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images
When you’re beginning a brand new NASCAR group and wish to take a look at choices exterior the same old pool of drivers, what may you be searching for? Some oval expertise, confirmed capability at a excessive degree and data of the American motorsport scene would all be helpful. Clearly, they’d have to need to do it, too. So how about Nick Tandy?
The 2015 Le Mans winner began off within the robust battles of quick oval racing towards the type of laborious characters that characteristic in NASCAR and may take care of himself on-track. He has been fast in no matter he’s pushed, from Method Ford to LMP1, and even surprised on a one-off British Touring Automotive Championship check with the Motorbase Ford group. And he already has a want to race a NASCAR sooner or later.
Tandy is a recognized determine in American motorsport, having been a GT class winner in Porsche and Chevrolet equipment, most notably the 2014 Daytona 24 Hours, 2015 Petit Le Mans (which was additionally a win total) and 2019 Sebring 12 Hours.
The JTR group boss has labored each on his personal vehicles and with top-level skilled engineers, an important factor for fulfillment in oval racing. The present World Endurance Corvette competitor misses the American scene and would match proper in. Tandy in NASCAR makes extra sense than you first thought!
Shane van Gisbergen – by Andrew van Leeuwen
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering
Photograph by: Mark Horsburgh, Edge Photographics
The very apparent alternative from the pool of Supercars stars is Shane van Gisbergen. The Kiwi simply needs to be one of many first draft picks for the challenge. He is without doubt one of the most naturally-gifted drivers on the planet and never solely is he close to unstoppable in Supercars, however his expertise constantly transfers to anything he drives.
He’s been a manufacturing facility McLaren driver and gained the GT World Problem Europe title in 2016. He gained the New Zealand Grand Prix – in a Toyota Racing Sequence single-seater – after ranging from pitlane. Only recently, he determined to strive his hand at rallying and completed second in his first ever spherical within the Australian Rally Championship. He’s already locked in a drive for New Zealand’s spherical of the World Rally Championship later this 12 months. He additionally examined a NASCAR-inspired Trans Am automobile just lately and was as a result of race it at Bathurst in April, solely to be sidelined a number of days earlier than when he examined constructive to COVID-19.
Van Gisbergen can also be an uncompromising, aggressive racer who by no means offers an inch. He would thrive within the dog-eat-dog, panel-bashing world of NASCAR. He’d be an ideal match – besides maybe actually, given his lanky six-foot-plus body. But when he crammed himself right into a TRS open-wheeler, then I’m positive he’ll discover a technique to slide by the window of a Cup racer.
Put him on a highway course and he’d be a winner. An oval is perhaps more durable, however there’s little doubt ‘Giz’ might deal with himself on the NASCAR Cup Sequence stage simply high quality. It’s additionally price noting the similarities between a Subsequent Technology NASCAR and a Gen2 Supercar. Ford actually simply used a modified Supercar to provide a few of its NASCAR drivers some cheeky laps at Watkins Glen.
Van Gisbergen in a correct NASCAR? Boy would it not be a variety of enjoyable to observe.
Dan Ticktum – by Jake Boxall-Legge
Dan Ticktum, NIO 333
Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
It’s extremely uncommon that European drivers get the chance to cross the Atlantic and go gallivanting round the US’ forged of ovals and highway programs in NASCAR Cup equipment. It is not that there is a lack of curiosity, it is simply laborious to see which PR-friendly racers would click on in an arguably extra unfastened, confrontational class such because the US’ flagship stock-car championship. Besides one, after all.
Out of all of the box-office drivers populating the worldwide championships, I might wager that Dan Ticktum could be the person to carry his personal towards the rough-and-ready fashion of racing in NASCAR, and he’d be an ideal decide for Trackhouse’s #91 machine.
What most likely counts towards Ticktum is his relative inexperience on ovals, however that may show a minimal hurdle for the NIO 333 Method E drive to beat – and the rubbin’s racin’ mentality of NASCAR would doubtless be a facet that he’d willingly roll his sleeves up for and get caught in.
It will be an expertise he’d worth and acquit himself nicely at; equally, he’d not be a pushover when dicing with a number of the extra skilled names within the championship. And if nothing else, it would be nice enjoyable – particularly when it comes to verbal sparring…
Johan Kristoffersson – by James Newbold
Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, Johan Kristoffersson, Rosberg X Racing
Photograph by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images
Clearly, Trackhouse ought to be aiming for a driver with confirmed all-rounder standing. And for that cause, it ought to be on the case with getting four-time World RallyCross champion Johan Kristoffersson’s contact particulars.
The Swede has proven that he’s a fast learner by successful the inaugural Excessive E title in electrical SUVs final 12 months, and in addition has loads of circuit racing titles to his title. Keep in mind the glittering 2012 season when he gained the Italian-based tin-top collection Superstars, whereas additionally claiming the spoils within the Scandinavian Touring Automotive Championship (a feat he repeated in 2018) and his home Porsche Carrera Cup title (repeated in 2013 and 2015)? He was additionally a winner within the 2019 WTCR championship towards the world’s elite touring automobile drivers, comfortably ending as the highest VW driver in fifth.
Automotive management naturally gained’t be an issue for Kristoffersson, who gained 11 of 12 rounds on his technique to the 2018 WRX crown, and he wouldn’t discover the rough-and-tumble of NASCAR a shock given the significance of incomes observe place within the quick, sharp RX bouts.
His fellow Swede and famend all-rounder Mathias Ekstrom didn’t shame himself in any respect when he made two outings for the Pink Bull group in 2010 at Sonoma and Richmond. Within the former, he so riled Brad Keselowski that the long run Cup Sequence champion was compelled to retaliate and fired him out of a possible top-15 end.
Why ought to Kristoffersson be any totally different?
Sebastien Loeb – by Tom Howard
Winner Sebastien Loeb
Photograph by: Race of Champions
If Trackhouse Racing needs to forged its internet exterior of circuit racing and into the rallying enviornment, then there are a number of candidates that might be price contemplating. Amongst them is the World Rally Championship’s biggest driver, Sebastien Loeb, who’s now not competing on a full-time foundation within the self-discipline.
9-time world champion Loeb has already proved himself as a flexible driver and at 48-years-old, the Frenchman has confirmed he’s misplaced none of his pace, having gained the Monte Carlo Rally and the Race of Champions already this 12 months.
Le Maestro has additionally loved success in circuit racing, ending second outright on the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours for Pescarolo. In 2014 and 2015 he proved his price in a touring automobile, ending third total with Citroen within the World Touring Automotive Championship, successful six instances throughout the 2 seasons. He was additionally a winner in GT3 equipment when he raced with Alvaro Parente within the FIA GT Sequence in 2013 together with his personal McLaren outfit.
Regardless of his age, Loeb’s urge for food for motorsport has not diminished one bit. He’s competing in Excessive E and the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship this 12 months, alongside partial campaigns within the WRC and the DTM. Why not NASCAR too?
Spoiled for alternative in IndyCar – by David Malsher-Lopez
Will Energy, Crew Penske Chevrolet
Photograph by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images
Chip Ganassi Racing’s six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou have been invaluable to Jimmie Johnson because the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion embraced the conversion from inventory vehicles to open-wheel vehicles. It will be nice to observe JJ return the favor and get his teammates up to the mark in a inventory automobile, be it on ovals or highway programs. Dixon can excel in something, as his exploits in sports activities prototypes and GTs have confirmed, and there’s no cause to query Palou’s capability to do the identical.
Different IndyCar champions who’ve pushed nicely in tin-tops are Will Energy and Sebastien Bourdais, after they raced Supercars in 2011 at Surfers Paradise, and each drivers are sufficiently old to have raced loads of vehicles with stick shifts. Oh, and I might put cash on Willy P taking pole at Sonoma.
After which there’s Colton Herta. Simply take a look at what he did on the Race of Champions in Sweden again in February, regardless of being unfamiliar with both the automobiles or the surfaces. And really quickly he’ll have pushed a Method 1 automobile, too, including additional attract.
Lastly, a shout out for Felix Rosenqvist, who has gained races in all however one collection he’s ever tried – and there’s an important lots of them. To see him wrestling a inventory automobile could be very attention-grabbing. He won’t be the gang magnet that Justin Marks is searching for, however he positively might be a winner.
Intention excessive to broaden star energy horizons – by Charles Bradley
Max Verstappen, Pink Bull Racing, 1st place, sprays the victory Champagne
Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
I like a crossover challenge, so kudos to Trackhouse for its world driver initiative. My first thought was about Trackhouse’s present star Daniel Suarez, the one non-American in NASCAR’s Cup Sequence. His higher half is Julia Piquet, whose sister Kelly is with Max Verstappen. I wager Verstappen would like to do it, however I doubt Pink Bull would agree…
However why not purpose excessive? Lewis Hamilton has examined a NASCAR Cup automobile for Tony Stewart – his ambitions exterior of F1 have at all times been American-leaning, the place his profile is greater than ever. Fernando Alonso has at all times liked a problem, so long as the tools offers him a combating likelihood. Kimi Raikkonen has raced in NASCAR Vehicles and Xfinity earlier than, and he should be becoming bored now…
Jacques Villeneuve did nicely on this 12 months’s Daytona 500, and whereas Juan Pablo Montoya hated the grind of NASCAR, he loves racing these vehicles at their restrict.
Though NASCAR is probably the most American of motorsports, Jim France is at its helm. A real scholar of the worldwide sport, you solely should test an IMSA entry checklist to see loads of worldwide expertise. All ships rise with the tide, and it’s about time NASCAR broadened its horizons too.
Kamui Kobayashi – by Jamie Klein
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – Hybrid: Kamui Kobayashi
Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Two years in the past, Kamui Kobayashi informed Motorsport.com that he desires to strive racing in NASCAR. Nicely, Kamui, right here’s your likelihood! Assuming Toyota permits it, that’s…
At 35 years of age, ex-Method 1 driver Kobayashi stays eager on sampling as many alternative types of motorsport as he can. Whereas he’s greatest recognized as of late for his Le Mans-winning exploits for the Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship squad (the place he’s now nominally group boss in addition to driver), he’s stored his hand in single-seaters in Japan’s Tremendous Method collection, and is now a semi-regular customer to the States due to his Michelin Endurance Cup program within the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
As a part of his IMSA cope with the Motion Specific Racing Cadillac group, Kobayashi has been sharing a automobile with no lesser legend of NASCAR that Jimmie Johnson, one thing that can have little doubt deepened his fascination with inventory automobile racing even additional.
Whereas the Japanese driver piloting something aside from a Toyota may seem like a no-go, contemplate that he has been allowed to drive a GM automobile in IMSA even the place one other Toyota model (Lexus) competes, and due to his shut private relationship with the auto big’s bosses, he was even allowed to skip a Tremendous Method race final 12 months in favor of racing within the Sebring 12 Hours. May he wangle one other favor? We will solely hope…
Ross Chastain, TrackHouse Racing, Introduction Well being Chevrolet Camaro and Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet Camaro
Photograph by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images