Red Bull Racing announced that two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekström will drive the No. 83 RBR Toyota at the Toyota Save/Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway later this month. He will take over the seat from Casey Mears, who has been filling in for Brian Vickers, who is sidelined for the rest of the season as he recovers from blood clot treatment.
Ekström tested the No. 83 at Virginia International Raceway. It was during that test, it seems, that Ekström impressed RBR officials enough to earn a shot to start his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
RBR General Manager Jay Frye said:
We were worried about getting him up to speed in a day. He was up to speed in an hour — less than an hour. He’s a phenomenal talent.
Red Bull had to check with Audi before putting Ekström in the seat of their Toyota because Ekström is a factory driver.
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.
It’s always nice to try something new. At the test I felt really at home. So now going to a race will be very nice. The biggest difficulty will be to race with 42 other cars. [In DTM], we have 18. I’m sure it will be interesting and I’m really looking forward to the experience.