Earlier this week, Valentino Rossi joined Kyle Busch at Charlotte Motor Speedway to sample a NASCAR Nationwide Series stock car. He lapped quickly enough to qualify in the top-15 of the Nationwide Series field and in doing so earned a few new stock car admirers.
The nine-time World Motorcycling Champion got quickly up to speed, travelling at 185mph around the 1.5-mile circuit, before pumping in some faster laps. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings, and it being Rossi’s first time on a banked oval, he soon became comfortable and began enjoying the experience.
“It was so cool to understand the feeling!” beamed Rossi. “I have a lot of friends from Europe and Italy who follow NASCAR. It looks like it’s a completely different type of racing than what we do in Europe and I expected something more like this – exciting, high speed and a great feeling in the corner.”
“In the bank you have a lot of grip, so you are glued on the racetrack. It was great, I enjoyed it a lot. I love driving the race car, and I always have, so it was exciting to drive a NASCAR.”
Busch paid compliments to Rossi’s NASCAR driving skills, “..as far as driving the car, I thought he did pretty good. He started out a little slow, which is fine, but every lap he picked it up a lot.”
“He got to where he was running some competitive lap speeds – times that would put him in the top-15 in Nationwide Series practice. That’s pretty good for a guy in his first start, who is just coming over and getting used to things and someone that is (more) used to driving on two wheels.”
Rossi added: “At the beginning it was a bit strange because it’s difficult to go straight. But after some laps, I had a lot of confidence and I was able to go faster and faster and faster. I must say I got along very well with Kyle. He’s a good guy. I like him and he gave me a lot of important advice.”
It’s not the first time Rossi has driven a four-wheel race car, the Italian occasionally races his Ferrari 458 Italia in the Blancpain Endurance Series and is always competitive. He also won last November’s Monza Rally, driving a Ford Fiesta WRC and beating off Le Mans winner Dindo Capello in a Citroen WRC DS3.
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