Daniil Kvyat called his first laps in a NASCAR “interesting” as he was on track to train and qualify at the Indianapolis road track on Saturday morning.
“It was very important to get some laps today,” Kvyat said after qualifying for 36th place. “It was a short free practice; short qualification. I am very happy that we were able to do important rounds today 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 that the cars are different. Totally about driving.
“A very enjoyable experience. It has always been great to experience a NASCAR car, and I’m so glad it finally happened. I really enjoyed it. It was really cool. I look forward to tomorrow.”
Kvyat runs for Team Hezeberg at No. 26, the first time the team has run two cars. Team Hezeberg, formed this year due to its appeal to the Next Gen, is primarily focused on track racing, led by Loris Hezemans.
After Indianapolis, Kvyat is hoping to run at least two more races this season. Watkins Glenn is likely to be the next race (August 21), and he’d like to race in Charlotte Rovalle (October 9) as well.
“We are a very, very small team,” Kvyat said. “We have just started with the car [for Indy] It was ready at the last minute. If you were in the factory, you would be amazed at how much effort it was and how everything was at the last minute. This car was crafted with true love.”
The differences in Kvyat coming from the open-wheel world to stock cars were evident as he said the NASCAR garage is more relaxed and comfortable, but acknowledged that the operation is equally impressive and is a high standard for championship racing.
At one point he was scheduled 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, paving the way for Kvyat to not only return to racing competition, but do so in the form of racing he was 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 chance due to the FIA ban. “But it was great to meet with NASCAR and have that opportunity. Great example of sportsmanship and sports are great for everyone.
“I’m focused on NASCAR. I’m not thinking about any other tournaments at the moment. I want to put all my energy here to get as much experience and periods…to be really competitive here one day.”
Kvyat is open to any form of racing he can compete in regarding both NASCAR and IndyCar, which also takes place in Indianapolis this weekend. There were no talks about IndyCar, and Kvyat said he was drawn to NASCAR because it is an independent and unique series.
“There is really no alternative,” Kvyat said. “And even if there are alternatives, they are a lot less in class, which is why I was interested here. At IndyCar, I would be confident to do a very strong job right away because the cars are more than I am used to.”
An entire season in NASCAR would be out of the question for Kvyat.
“Maybe next year,” he said. “But I also need to accelerate to the elliptical, try the elliptical and of course, I want to be competitive. I don’t want to just come to drive, I want to be competitive. That means being in the right place, having the right experience — owning A very competitive car is also important here – so all the factors have to be together.”