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Kobayashi "100% ready" for NASCAR Cup debut

Kamui Kobayashi says he is "100% ready" for his NASCAR Cup debut this weekend, becoming the first Japanese driver to take part in the category in over 20 years.

Kamui Kobayashi, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camrym Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Monster Energy Toyota Camry

The two-time World Endurance champion and overall winner in the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours will start 28th in his Cup debut on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, driving the #67 23XI Racing Toyota.

He joins a star-studded field that includes Shane van Gisbergen, Brodie Kostecki, Jenson Button, and Mike Rockenfeller for Sunday's race.

"It’s been a long preparation for myself," said Kobayashi during a Saturday press conference at IMS.

"I’ve been traveling from Japan three times from Europe to Charlotte and I was preparing being here at the Indy Road Course.

"I’m really happy to finally get here. I think the preparation was pretty good.

"I think 23XI helped me to get here and be pretty confident. Obviously, I think Toyota and TRD have helped me a lot in the simulator sessions to be prepared for this road course.

"Honestly, I think with my preparation and everything that I’m 100% ready for this weekend.”

Although Kobayashi has never made a start in any level of stock car racing before, the 36-year-old has plenty of experience elsewhere, starting 75 Formula 1 races between 2009 and 2014, scoring one podium and finishing as high as 12th in the championship standings.

Leading up to this event, Kobayashi has done several hours of simulator work and tested the car on-track at Virginia International Raceway.

Kamui Kobayashi with Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Monster Energy Toyota Camry and Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, McDonald's Toyota Camry

Kamui Kobayashi with Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Monster Energy Toyota Camry and Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, McDonald's Toyota Camry

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

He can also lean on his team-mates, which includes defending Indy RC winner Tyler Reddick.

"I will say the car behaviour is challenging for me because I’ve never driven such less downforce with the weight," said Kobayashi.

"I think weight transfer in the car is different than what I’m used to driving. When I did the rookie test at VIR it was pretty good. Just after a couple laps I feel pretty confident.

"I think here after the rookie test I would say it’s not too bad to be honest, and with all the preparation, it helped my confidence level as well.”

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