Not merely does WGI produce one of the most exciting races and memorable finishes on the NASCAR schedule, but this season, in addition, it serves because the penultimate race to a normal season which has seen 15 different winners. Five of these winners had never won prior to the 2022 season.
Even beyond its playoff importance, there’s another reason this race will undoubtedly be historic. Seven different countries will undoubtedly be represented, probably the most ever within a NASCAR Cup Series race.
The 2010 Cup race at Sonoma and the 2013 Cup race at Watkins Glen come close, with six nations represented. Additionally, only seven times in the 70+ year history of the activity comes with an international driver taken the checkered flag in the Cup Series.
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This weekend’s grid will undoubtedly be comprised of some very prominent international drivers, with very successful careers. Needless to say, there’s full-time NASCAR driver and native of Monterrey, Mexico, Daniel Suarez. The former NASCAR Xfinity Series champion became the initial Mexican-born driver to ever win a Cup Series race earlier this season at Sonoma Raceway.
Race winner Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Onx Homes / Renu Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images
But there’s Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 Formula 1 World Champion and winner of 21 races over his remarkable 20-year career. In his highly anticipated Cup Series debut, the Finnish driver will pilot the No. 91 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet as a teammate to both Suarez and Ross Chastain, who’ve combined to win two of the four road course races run up to now this year. He’s got two previous NASCAR starts, one each in the Truck and Xfinity Series back 2011. He’ll certainly be someone to watch, however the average NASCAR fan might take issue with him being called the ‘Iceman’ as it is also the nickname of NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte!
Photo by: Project91
Like Raikkonen, Mike Rockenfeller will undoubtedly be making his NASCAR Cup Series debut. The veteran German racer is most beneficial known for his overall victory being an Audi driver in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, in addition to capturing the 2013 DTM(Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) title. He’ll be when driving of the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend, and is one I really believe could just be the best-performing driver using this group on Sunday.
Mike Rockenfeller, Abt Sportsline
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
Team Hezeberg is really a fairly new team at the Cup level, however they are no strangers to fielding international drivers. Former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve made his Daytona 500 debut with the team in February, driving the No. 27 Ford Mustang. Since that time, they will have run Dutchman and 2x NASCAR Euro Series champion Loris Hezemans atlanta divorce attorneys road course race.
Loris Hezemans, Team Hezeberg, Hezeberg Systems Ford Mustang
Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images
Team Hezeberg recently entered another car for the very first time at the Indianapolis Road Course, with Russian driver Daniil Kvyat when driving of the No. 26 Toyota Camry. They’ll achieve this again at Watkins Glen, where Kvyat hopes to boost upon Indy where he didn’t finish the race because of mechanical issues. The ex-F1 driver and Red Bull prospect started over 100 races, scoring three podiums during his career there.
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing celebrates his third place
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
The list continues with UK racing driver Kyle Tilley, who’s listed because the driver of the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford Mustang. Of the part-timers with this list, he could be probably the most experienced NASCAR driver of these all, with just four Cup starts during the last 2 yrs. The sports vehicle driver includes a class victory in the 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and is area of the 2021 title-winning Asian Le Mans Series team in the LMP2-Am class.
Kyle Tilley, Live Fast Motorsports, Ford Mustang Bremont / Battle Associates
Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images
The 33 American drivers on the entry list bumps the list around seven. It could not seem that impressive compared to the existing F1 grid or the common IndyCar field, but it’s still a significant milestone for NASCAR because they continue to work at expanding their audience.
With a go at the playoffs at risk and each one of these drivers of varying racing backgrounds, Sunday will be another Watkins Glen race that people won’t soon forget.