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Global Icons on NASCAR Stage: A Retrospect of 2023’s International Racers

Global Icons on NASCAR Stage: The intrigue sparked by international talents trying their hand in NASCAR is quite evident, perhaps owed in part to the allure of the new car itself. The inclusion of more road courses, the NASCAR Garage 56 entry at Le Mans, alongside innovative initiatives like Project91, have collectively enticed several global racing stars to delve into stock car racing.

The year 2023 witnessed the arrival of numerous drivers renowned in motorsports but entirely new to NASCAR, with one even clinching a Victory Lane finish. As we retrospect on the 2023 season, let’s revisit these drivers who emerged from various corners of the racing world.

Pastrana and Daly’s Daytona 500 Endeavor

Travis Pastrana, an extreme sports athlete, ventured into NASCAR racing a decade ago but faced limited success as a full-time Xfinity Series driver. His aspiration of participating in the Daytona 500 persisted for years but lacked the right opportunity until 23XI Racing stepped in.

Pastrana’s Daytona 500 attempt this year was no walk in the park. With zero practice, he had to qualify for the marquee race, achieving it without fuss. Despite a commendable run, a late-race incident dashed his hopes for a top-five finish, concluding his Cup Series debut in 11th place.

Another participant, Conor Daly, an IndyCar veteran, eyed his Daytona 500 debut in the 65th edition. Overcoming car troubles and speed issues, Daly managed to secure a spot in the event, finishing 29th amid challenging circumstances.

Two F1 World Champions’ NASCAR Stint

Returning to Trackhouse Racing for the Project91 entry, 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen stepped into the NASCAR fray again, racing at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Fellow F1 Champion Jenson Button also joined the NASCAR scene, preparing for the Le Mans 24 by entering a race.

The event proved emotionally tumultuous for Button, grappling with heat exhaustion and on-track encounters with fellow F1 driver.

Raikkonen’s strategy fell short as he became entangled in incidents, finishing 29th, while Button managed a respectable 18th place in his debut. Button’s subsequent outings resulted in mixed finishes.

Le Mans Winners & Their NASCAR Quest

Le Mans victors Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi entered the realm of stock car racing, adapting to the new challenge. Rockenfeller garnered experience across five races, securing a best finish of 19th at Watkins Glen.

Kobayashi, the first Japanese driver in the Cup Series in two decades, confronted multiple misfortunes in his debut at the Indianapolis Road Course, aspiring to pave the way for more Japanese drivers in NASCAR.

Supercars Invasion and SVG’s Remarkable Debut

The arrival of three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen created waves as he secured a historic win in the Chicago Street Course race, becoming the first driver in over 60 years to win a Cup race on debut.

Later committing to a full-time NASCAR career, SVG’s triumph captured the attention of three-time F1 World Champion Max Verstappen, who enthusiastically cheered for him during the event.

Global Icons on NASCAR Stage (2)

Expanding the Spectrum of Racing Talent

Other entrants like Brodie Kostecki, Jordan Taylor, and Jonathan Davenport explored the NASCAR domain, each facing distinct challenges in their Cup debuts.

While some encountered struggles, these international talents collectively illuminated the arduous nature of stock car racing for newcomers, with SVG emerging as the exception.

The Indianapolis Road Course recorded a milestone with six foreign-born drivers, hinting at the sport’s increasing global appeal.

ALSO READ: Chris Buescher Rise: Unexpected Daytona 500 Contender and Racing Highlights

Our Reader’s Queries

What do the stages in NASCAR mean?

NASCAR has introduced a new format called stage racing. Each stage includes regular racing followed by a break on a specific lap marked by a green and white checkered flag, then a yellow flag. The top 10 drivers in the first two stages earn extra championship points. This new system adds an exciting element to the race and rewards drivers for their performance throughout the event.

What year did NASCAR start?

In 1948, NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, was born. Its first race was held on February 15th of the same year at the beach road course in Daytona Beach.

What is the purpose of NASCAR?

NASCAR, or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC, is a renowned American company that sanctions and operates auto racing events, with a focus on stock car racing. As one of the leading motorsports organizations globally, NASCAR is also a major spectator sport in the United States.

Why is it called NASCAR?

In a pivotal moment on December 14, 1947, France made a decision that would alter the course of history. This choice ultimately led to the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and secured France a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s first-ever Class of 2010.

Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatia, a distinguished BA (Hons) English graduate from St. Stephen College (University of Delhi) and a holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (English) from IIMC Delhi, is an accomplished journalist. Currently affiliated with, Khushal is an expert in covering a range of sports topics with a specialization in motorsports, particularly NASCAR. His insightful articles explore the nuances of the sporting world, providing readers with comprehensive analysis and the latest updates. With a commitment to unbiased reporting, Khushal's expertise and authoritative voice make him a reliable source for sports enthusiasts.


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