Mattias Ekström contests NASCAR race
For Mattias Ekström, Christmas this year will be on the 20th of June: the Audi „factory“ driver and two-time DTM Champion has been given the opportunity to contest a race of U.S. NASCAR series for the Red Bull team at Sonoma (California). After successful track tests, one of the biggest motorsport dreams of the 31-year-old Swede is coming true.
At the 16th of a total of 36 NASCAR races, Mattias Ekström will drive car number 83. Ekström’s commitment was made possible because regular driver Brian Vickers, for whom the DTM star tested two weeks ago in preparation for the race, is still unable to compete for health reasons. The more than 3.2-kilometer Infineon Raceway in Sonoma Valley is a road course on which 110 race laps are run.
„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. This trust by the Audi family gives me additional motivation to return to Europe with a good result and to step on the gas again in Audi’s home race at the Norisring in Nuremberg,“ says Mattias Ekström.
Head of Audi Sport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is sending his 14-time DTM race winner off to the other side of the Atlantic with best wishes. „Mattias’ commitment as a guest entrant impressively shows the prestige which the DTM and the Audi drivers enjoy in the United States too. As early as in his test Mattias showed that he can stand his ground with a new team and a new car on a new track. Now, everyone at Audi is keeping their fingers crossed for him to be able to cause a bit of a sensation in the race with a great performance.“
Ekström’s eager anticipation of the race also contains a considerable amount of awe. „Tests are one thing and they were a good opportunity for me to get accustomed to a NASCAR vehicle. But contesting a race with 42 other cars is totally new territory for me. I’ll simply try and concentrate on my strengths and to stay cool for 350 kilometers.“
The weekend at the Infineon Raceway, which is located a little over an hour’s drive from San Francisco, will start on Friday, June 18, with free practice and qualifying. Two more practice sessions are scheduled on Saturday before the 110-lap race starts at 12.00, local time, on Sunday. 43 cars have been entered in the event. The race at Sonoma is the first of just two races on the calendar which are held on road courses.