The Cup series welcomes the return of the Russian driver to racing | WJHL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Daniil Kvyat has been anxiously waiting to race again for nearly two years.

After being relegated to reserve driver for last year’s Formula 1 season, he watched helplessly as his team withdrew from the World Endurance Series in March when the governing body imposed sanctions on the Russians over their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Sunday, the 28-year-old with three F1 podium finishes will finally take the green flag – as the first Russian to start a cup race. He will start 36th alongside Erik Jones at the 14-turn, 2.439-mile Indy.

“I was very excited to get into the car here,” said a relieved Kvyat on Saturday. “For me, it was like when the car started, I was like, yeah, we’re going to the track. We’re finally going to race. Yeah, this is really cool, so yeah, very, very excited.”

Kvyat last competed in Abu Dhabi in mid-December 2020. During the COVID-19 shortened season, he finished 13th in races and 14th in the points standings, recording seven top 10s in 17 starts.

It wasn’t enough to convince AlphaTauri to re-sign Kvyat and settle for a second-tier job in the European Alpine team.

Now it seems that, like other former F1 drivers, Kvyat has found a new home on American soil.

He thanked NASCAR for opening its arms after he was rejected by the FIA ​​and hopes to follow in the footsteps of other international drivers who have successfully made the transition from Europe.

Romain Grosjean recorded two runner-up finishes at Indy last year, in his rookie IndyCar season. Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso nearly won the Indianapolis 500 in his debut year, and Juan Pablo Montoya won one of his two 500s and two Cup races after retiring from F1.

Kvyat may not be at that level yet. But he is paired with Loris Hezemans, a 25-year-old Dutchman, in the Hezeberg team. Hezemans qualified as 34th for the first European Cup team.

And Kvyat has already recognized some of the significant problems facing American racers.

“It’s a bit different in Formula 1.” Sponsors pick you and pay you – I always get paid,” he said. “You have to get your own people here, and I’m ready to get more people behind me.”

Kvyat’s team would appreciate an expansion of the plan thanks to additional sponsorship money. IndyCars could also be one of the possibilities.

But for now, Kvyat is content to compete in as many races as possible this season, find a full-time ride in the future and avoid another long break.

“I’m very open to maybe one day, maybe next year, doing a full season here,” he said. But I need to get up to speed on the ovals, try racing on the oval and of course I want to be competitive. I don’t want to just come for a ride. I want to be competitive. It means I’m in the right place, I’m getting the right experience, I’m in the right car.”


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Ferdinand Medina

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