Toyota Racing – NCS Bristol Quotes – Kamui Kobayashi – 03.16.24

23XI Racing driver Kamui Kobayshi was made available to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.

KAMUI KOBAYSHI, No. 50 Mobil 1 Toyota Camry XSE, 23XI Racing

What are you expecting next weekend at COTA?

“I’m definitely excited for next weekend at COTA. My first race last year at Indy, I think I was a little bit surprised, but I think the race went quite smooth. I think I dropped back in the early stage, and I didn’t get any caution. It was quite difficult in the back end of the field, but I had great fun. I had this opportunity with Mobil 1’s 50th anniversary for this opportunity at COTA. I’m definitely looking forward to next week. We’ve had more preparation. I’ve raced COTA five times already in Formula 1 and WEC. I think Indy – it was my first time ever racing there, but next week I have more experience, so definitely looking forward to the race.”

What was the reaction to you in Japan from running the NASCAR Cup Series race?

“NASCAR – we don’t have it on broadcast for example. Last year, for the Indy race it was live. I think the last broadcast was like in 2016. So, I think maybe people were watching NASCAR and seeing how exciting it was. People have been following my social media. I think we are again going to have the live broadcast in Japan next weekend in COTA, so I think people will get more knowledge of NASCAR. The racing in NASCAR is very different, so hopefully people get more of an understanding on what NASCAR racing is.”

What do you know now to expect that you didn’t know racing at Indianapolis last season?

“I think I learned quite a lot about how you handle the car and how the race goes, and how the race weekend goes. I think the second time I can manage myself better, and I’m putting in the preparation now. I’m spent quite a lot of time in the simulator. We will see.”

Was this always on the radar or did it come together more recently?

“I think it was because of Mobil 1’s 50th anniversary that it came about. It’s not something consistent. It just happened the one time. Toyota and TRD managed to find a partner, so that’s how it came together.”

What feel did you find in the Cup car that compares to anything you’ve competed in, in the past?

“I think the closest race car for me is Supercar in Australia. I think that is the closest one, which I’ve never driven. I’ve driven GT3 for example, it’s way different compared to that car. We have ABS and traction control. With the Cup car, you really don’t have any sensors taking the data. I would say the techniques that I’ve learned are way different. When you look throughout different motorsports, you have BOP and it’s easier for the driver to perform at everything, but in NASCAR, I think you have more of a demand. That’s why I’m happy to be here and challenging myself.”

Any interest in trying any oval race?

“I think I would have to start with a truck first.”

Do you foresee any additional races in NASCAR and how do you like competing in NASCAR?

“It totally different from European racing. The whole event is a huge difference. My dream was to race NASCAR a long time ago. My first race was NASCAR, when I was like four years old. It was an oval race, so that’s why I was dreaming to be here. I think generally we struggle in motorsports with the spectator or the fan with too much detail. I think Formula 1, if you look at the championship – I think something we need to learn when we go to European races – it’s too much detail. It’s difficult to understand as a fan, but when you look at NASCAR. It is simpler. I know there is technology behind, but I think as a motorsport the fans can understand what is making a difference at the end of the day. It makes a huge difference. I think there is more connectivity from the fans to the drivers.”

What did you think at Bristol? Could you imagine racing anything around here?

“First time coming to Bristol. I’ve done the sim here. I think the first time was four years ago for fun. I didn’t expect this big of a stadium, when I drove in the sim. I didn’t expect how the banking is. From when I looked on the outside, it’s not like a race track – something you can see like football in or something like that. It surprised me. As I drove by, it was something I was looking forward to seeing. I think a Cup car is probably what you should race here. It’s probably too small, too fast for anything else. It’s something that I’ve never experienced. I think the biggest banking I’ve seen is Daytona. I think for spectator – there is something very interesting about watching this type of race.”

Is there an audience of NASCAR fans in Japan? Should they race there again?

“I think for sure there is an opportunity. It is very different than any type of motorsport. It’s the sound. NASCAR has amazing sound. It’s amazing compared to any type of car, even Formula 1. It sounds noisy, but it’s one of the greatest sounds. When you are watching them race that close to the wall, it’s something that is hard to believe. I’m impressed. When you look at older sportscars, it’s hard to define the noise. If you bring it to Japan, I think people will be impressed with the sound. There’s a big opportunity to bring NASCAR to Japan. I think many people are looking forward to watching the Cup car.”

Toyota Racing PR