Ekstrom will drive the No 83 Toyota previously used by Brian Vickers, who will be unable to drive for the entire season due to medical reasons. The 31-year old Swede previously tested for the team in late May, at Virginia International Raceway, and will only do this one-off in the NASCAR Sprint Series.
“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,” said Ekstrom in an Audi press release.
“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,” added the Swede.
The race at Sonoma, Toyota/Save Mart 350 is only the second race in the entire 36-race schedule of the Sprint Cup Series to be ran on a road course, all 43 competitors having to complete an overall 110 laps to the chequered flag. That will likely make Ekstrom's transition from the DTM to NASCAR smoother and more interesting to watch.
“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,” added Head of Audi Sport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.