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If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times, but it warrants repeating – in context especially – that there exists an ocean of difference between stock car racing in America and touring cars overseas. And we're talking about more than geography here. The cars are different, the tracks are different, the drivers, the fans... and so too is the racing. But the two are about to take one step closer when two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekström takes on NASCAR.

Now Ekstrom wouldn't be the first European driver to test drive a stock car, but he's already done that. What we're talking about here is the full contest of an actual NASCAR race (made possibly by Red Bull, which sponsors his Audi A4 DTM and the #83 Toyota Camry he'll be driving Stateside). And not in a feeder series, either: the Toyota/Save Mart 350 is a full-fledged round of the top-tier Sprint Cup, not the Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series or ARCA junior league like some European drivers have started out with when making the transition.

Mind you, the race is being held at Infineon Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point) in Sonoma, California – one of only two road-courses on the series calendar – but the round at the Lausitzring EuroSpeedway (run partially on the banked tri-oval) ranks among the fourteen DTM races which Ekström's won, so he very well might stand a fighting chance on an American oval, too. In the meantime we'll be watching the weekend after next to see how Mattias fares in his auspicious NASCAR debut. Details in the press release after the jump.

[Source: Audi]
Show full PR text
Ingolstadt, 2010-05-25
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

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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know there are plenty of people who enjoy NASCAR and I'll occasionally tune in to watch Sears Point or Watkins Glenn but to me, DTM is just about the most competitive racing series out there. They drive aggressively and (mostly) professionally on some of the worlds best road courses. For my money, it doesn't get much better than that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        . . . and when there's a little rain in the forecast they (DTM) don't park their race cars, they just race harder.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Notice how he's standing if front of the only part of the car that identifies it as a Toyota Camry (Grille, Logo & Logotype decals)?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Should be fun to watch. JPMontoya, Marcos Ambrose, Said, Pruett/Fellows (?) etc... and now some good DTM talent. Throw a Busch in there and a Gordon or two, all in cars that can take a decent beating. I'm not a NASCAR supporter necessarily, but this ought to be a race to watch for sure.
        • 5 Years Ago

        My guess is that this is not an official PR photo. Notice that the cars are not squared up and the photographers shadow in the bottom right.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ summazooma

        Why is he doing that? Does he not like Toyota or something?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I watch every form of auto racing I can (and race my car in auto-x as well). For my money they best racing is the NASCAR road course racing. Heavy cars cars that cannot handle with skinny tires. The aerodynamics play no factor so the drivers can actually set up a pass and underbrake like they are supposed to.

        And the drivers have the talent. NASCAR drivers can compete with other world class drivers on the road courses. Look at Juan Pablo Montoya. He won 7 F1 races and finished 3rd in the standings twice (both times behind Schumacher and Raikkonen). He has 1 win in 6 road couses races. Boris Said won the 24 Hours of Daytona twice, the 24 Hours at the Nürburgring, and 12 hours at Seabring. He has 1 top 5 in 19 NASCAR road course races.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There's about a 50 year difference between the cars....
      • 5 Years Ago
      You're right, there is a world of difference between DTM and NASCAR. Say what you want about the fans and the un-"stock" cars, but anyone who's seen a DTM race in the past few years will agree it has become one of the dullest forms of racing on the planet - processional, minimal passing for fear of damaging the sensitive aero, and chock-full of team order goodness. NASCAR has its haters for different reasons, but the two series could both stand to learn a lot from eachother.
      • 5 Years Ago
      well this is gonna be damn interesting with Jeff Gordan,Robby Gordan,tony Stewart,Kasey khane,Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch,kyle Busch,mark martin,macros Ambrose,Juan Montoya, and now Mattias elkostrom as-well as Scott speed and Jaime McMurrey
      • 5 Years Ago
      To be loved by Trailer Queens everywhere
      David Ederer
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why is coming to race in NASCAR if DTM and is so wonderful? He should stay in Europe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Racing is Racing. It's all fun, especially if you are driving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let 'em drive the Audi in the race... hell, on the ovals too.
      I'd start watching NASCAR again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1, i'd watch an R8 go in 500 circles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mattias is gonna come over and whip up on them good 'ol boys.

      Not only that, but he's gonna do it while wearing silly square glasses and pointy shoes with velcro and/or buckles, while nibbling on stinky cheese and sipping tea with pinky extended.

      We PRAY that someone figures out how to make NASCAR as boring as other popular forms of racing. I, personally, am sick and tired of all the passing and the tight competition. It's SO confusing!

      Yes, NASCAR came out of the southern US. Yes, racism and ignorance exists in the south in greater proportion than other areas. Guess what? Peaches come from Georgia and South Carolina and they're still delicious! I've been to an F1 race. Drunk Euros or drunk rednecks: not much difference.
      • 5 Years Ago
      so sad to see someone leave DTM for Nascar.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will be glued to the tv for this weekend's 24hrs of LeMans but I will probably give this race a look in next weekend to see how Ekstrom, etc. are doing.
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