Kvyat enjoying his 'interesting' first NASCAR experience

Matt Thacker/NKP/Motorsport Images

Kvyat enjoying his 'interesting' first NASCAR experience


Kvyat enjoying his 'interesting' first NASCAR experience


Daniil Kvyat called his first laps in a NASCAR stock car “interesting” as he got on track for practice and qualifying at the Indianapolis road course Saturday morning.

“It was very important to get some laps today,” Kvyat said after qualifying 36th. “It was a short free practice; a short qualifying. I’m very happy we managed to do important laps today for me to get used to this car because the last race I did was in Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi in 2020, so the least I can say is the cars are quite different to drive.

“Very interesting experience. It’s always been fascinating to me to try the NASCAR car, and I’m very happy for it to finally happen. I really enjoyed it. It was really cool. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Kvyat is running for Team Hezeberg in the No. 26, which is the first time the team has run two cars. The Hezeberg team, formed this year because of an attraction to the Next Gen car, focuses mainly on the road course races, led by Loris Hezemans.

After Indianapolis, Kvyat hopes to run at least two more races this season. Watkins Glen would likely be the next race (Aug. 21), and he’d like to do the Charlotte Roval (Oct. 9) as well.

“We are a very, very small team. Don’t forget that,” Kvyat said. “We are just starting up and the car [for Indy] was ready at the last moment. If you were in the factory, you would be amazed at how much effort was put in and how everything was last moment. This car really was put together with love.”

Differences for Kvyat coming from the open-wheel world to stock cars have been obvious as he said the NASCAR garage is more laid back and relaxed, but he acknowledged the operation is just as impressive and is a high level of championship racing.

At one point he was slated to compete in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship with G-Drive Racing in LMP2 but was sidelined when the FIA banned Russian drivers after the invasion of Ukraine. NASCAR does not restrict Russian drivers, clearing the way for Kvyat to not only return to racing competition but do so in the form of racing he’s been interested in trying.

“Honestly, I can race if I want to; that’s not the problem,” Kvyat said when asked if he was worried about his next opportunity given the FIA ban. “But it was great to get together with NASCAR and to get this opportunity. A great example of sportsmanship and the sport is great for everyone.

“I’m focused on NASCAR. I’m not thinking about any other championships at the moment. I want to give all my energy here to get as much experience and laps…in order to become really competitive here one day.”

Kvyat is open to any form of racing he can compete in with respect to both NASCAR and IndyCar, which is also at Indianapolis this weekend. There have been no talks about IndyCar, and Kvyat said he was drawn to NASCAR because it’s an independent series and unique.

“There is no alternative to it, really,” said Kvyat. “And even if there are alternatives, they are much lower in the level, so this is why I was interested here. In IndyCar, I would be confident to do a very strong job straight away because the cars are more to what I’m used to.”

A full season in NASCAR wouldn’t be out of the question for Kvyat.

“Maybe next year,” he said. “But I need to also get up to speed on the ovals, try oval racing and of course, want to be competitive. I don’t want to just come to drive, I want to be competitive. It means me being in the right place, getting the right experience — having a very competitive car is also important here — so all factors have to be together.”