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Rediff.com  » Sports » Narain Karthikeyan impressive in his NASCAR debut

Narain Karthikeyan impressive in his NASCAR debut

April 01, 2010 12:53 IST

Narain KarthikeyanAfter making his mark in the Formula One circuit, Narain Karthikeyan, now has added yet another notch to the racing belt. Last week, the 33-year-old driver shattered stereotypes to become the first Indian to drive in a NASCAR event, and he was impressive in that as well.

Karthikeyan finished an impressive 13, out of 36 competitors in his debut race of the NASCAR Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville International Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia.

His next race is on Firday, in Nashville, Tennessee.

NASCAR -- the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing - is the largest American sanctioning body of auto racing, and its events trail only professional American football for viewer ship in the US. 

In the pick-up series, Karthikeyan is piloting the No. 60 Chevrolet Silverado for the Starbeast Motorsports team.

This is an interesting step for India's best-known competitive driver. In the past he's driven in F1, the Le Mans Series, the Speedcar Series and the A1 GP.

Karthikeyan, however, is not the first F1-style racer to make the move to NASCAR. Previously, Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya and American Scott Speed have done the transition from F1 to NASCAR.

Should he continue to perform well in the World Truck Series, he could soon find himself racing in NASCAR's premiere series -- the legendary Sprint Cup for cars, where Montoya was a top-10 driver in 2009.

"The opportunity to compete in a NASCAR series is a dream come true for me," said Karthikeyan in a statement.

"I have raced all over the world, but this is a different kind of challenge for me and I look forward to learning everything I can about racing in this environment.

"NASCAR is known for its passionate fans. I'm excited to be introducing India to this sport and hope to help develop an equally passionate fan base there," he added.

According to reports, the newly formed Starbeast Motorsports is trying to bring NASCAR to an Indian audience, and thus has focussed on hiring international drivers. Given his track record, Karthikeyan was an obvious choice.

"After his success in Formula 1, Narain has become one of India's most popular athletes and the obvious choice to introduce NASCAR to the subcontinent," said Miguel Abaroa, founder of Starbeast Motorsports.

"His story is that of a motorsports pioneer, and this next chapter will be his most compelling," he added.