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Ekstrom gets NASCAR race chance

Mattias Ekstrom and Brian VickersTwo-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom will race for the Red Bull team this month in the first road course event of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Sonoma.

Following a successful test for the team at Virginia International Raceway on May 25, Red Bull confirmed on Monday that the Swede will drive the #83 car in the June 20 event.

According to the team's vice president and general manager Jay Frye, it took little time for the 31-year-old to get up to speed in the car in his single-day test, despite dealing with nearly twice the power of his DTM Audi A4, and a third more weight.

"We were worried about getting him up to speed in a day," Frye said about the test. "He was up to speed in an hour less than an hour. He's a phenomenal talent."

Audi has given Ekstrom its blessing to drive the Toyota Camry, taking Casey Mears' place as the Californian is currently filling in for Brian Vickers, who has been sidelined for the rest of the season as he undergoes treatment for blood clots found in his body last month.

"First of all, I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Red Bull for inviting a Swede with zero NASCAR experience to compete in the United States and to Audi for the possibility and approval that enable me to fulfill this dream," said Ekstrom.

"It's always nice to try something new. At the test I felt really at home. So now going to a race will be very nice. The biggest difficulty will be to race with 42 other cars. Here [in the DTM], we have 18. I'm sure it will be interesting and I'm really looking forward to the experience."

The Sprint Cup series competes on a road course for a second time at Watkins Glen on August 8, but round five of the DTM at the Nurburgring clashes with this event.

Ekstrom will become the first Scandinavian driver ever to compete at NASCAR's top level.

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