Here’s a story that is certainly going to get the rumors of Volkswagen‘s involvement in NASCAR started. Last week two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström was at Virginia International Raceway helping test a Red Bull Racing Toyota for the upcoming NASCAR race at Sonoma.
The reason for the odd match isn’t about NASCAR ambitions says Audi, but rather a driver’s dream and a sponsors request. That’s right, Red Bull Racing is the main sponsor for the No. 82 and No. 83 Toyotas in NASCAR, as well as the main sponsor for Ekstrom’s Audi DTM car. No. 83 driver Brian Vickers was ill and the car still needed to be tested, and according to Audi, Red Bull Racing USA remembered Ekstrom’s interest in NASCAR and made the request to Audi Sport.
“It’s no secret that the NASCAR series fascinates me and that it’s been a long-harbored dream of mine to drive such a car,” said Mattias Ekström, commenting after the test that, “The first hour of the test I was fighting the car a lot just getting used to the power, the weight and the fact that the car has little aero — all things that are very different for me. A few hours into the test I felt a lot more comfortable in the car and overall I think we had a really good test. I came into this test not having any experience in these types of cars, and also having never worked with the No. 83 team before, so it was really nice to see how well we all worked together. I really enjoyed my first Sprint Cup test and am glad to have had this opportunity.”
Er…. did he just say “first” test? We think so. Gentlemen, start your rumors.
[Source: Audi and RedBullRacingUSA.com]
Official release after the jump:
Mattias Ekström fulfills NASCAR dream
- On board a plane to the US immediately after triumph at Valencia – Audi “factory” driver tests at Virginia International Raceway today – Two-time DTM Champion supports Red Bull team on road course
INGOLSTADT, Germany, May 25, 2010 – For the two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström a small dream is coming true today: at the invitation of Red Bull, the 31-year-old Audi driver is performing track tests in a NASCAR vehicle at the Virginia International Raceway in Virginia (USA) to support the squad in preparing for the upcoming race.
“It’s no secret that the NASCAR series fascinates me and that it’s been a long-harbored dream of mine to drive such a car,” says Mattias Ekström, who clinched his first DTM victory of the year at Valencia on Sunday. After Scott Speed’s team-mate Brian Vickers was unable to test for health reason, the Red Bull squad in the United States remembered the interest shown by the Swede who has been contesting the DTM in Red Bull livery for nine years as well. Audi Sport approved the excursion by its driver.
”The racers of the Audi family live motorsport with a great passion. That’s why we are pleased to support wishes like Mattias’ for a NASCAR adventure,” says Head of Audi Sport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Mattias has proven his versatility and class in many different motorsport disciplines such as in rally sport or at the ‘Race of Champions.’ We’re excited to see how he will do in a car and on a track that are both new to him.”
Ekström’s excursion to the United States is not purely a pleasure trip, though. With the test, he is supporting the team’s preparations for the races that will not be held on the NASCAR-typical oval: Sonoma on June 20 and Watkins Glen on August 8. The Red Bull squad can count on the experience of a proven road course expert like Ekström.