Trulli to NASCAR? UPDATE With the Lotus team announcing that they have signed their first driver and an official announcement coming very soon, thoughts turn to Jarno Trulli, who now finds himself out of a drive for 2010 after the Panasonic Toyota Racing tram opted to close their doors on the pinnacle of Motorsport.
However, on the same day that the team announces the arrival of that undisclosed driver, Trulli, who was thought to be in the hot seat for a drive with the Malaysian team, was busy in America at a NASCAR event in Phoenix with Michael Waltrip Racing ahead of his first official test in the series next week. While the Italian racer has openly admitted that there are several opportunities to remain in the pinnacle of Motorsport next season and that next week’s test is just for fun, he did reveal in an interview to Autosport that he would like to keep the door open to the possibility of racing in NASCAR alongside his former F1 colleague, Juan Pablo Montoya.
According to Trulli, Montoya’s defection to the US based series several years ago has highlighted the series and with no real ties to keep him in Europe, a move to America is a real possibility, especially after seeing the huge following and professional atmosphere that goes along with the NASCAR championship.
“It’s just a question that I don't know if I want to do it,” he said. “That's why I'm extremely interested in testing this car, to get an idea of what [it] is [like] driving these cars."
It is obvious by his comments that he hasn’t already signed a deal to jump into NASCAR next season, and reading between the lines, there is a possibility he has signed a deal already....
“Obviously looking at today's situation it's pretty clear that I can race in Formula 1 next year,” he said while Lotus team boss Tony Fernandes has made it quite clear to the British publication that he wants an experienced driver in one of his cars for their debut season....
"If we can get a guy who has been doing it for a long time, that's fantastic because you can't buy experience and he can help us develop the car and the team and he can help us after the race, adding value to driver development.”
11/10/09 Rumor has it that Jarno Trulli will be making the trip to Phoenix as a guest of Toyota and Michael Waltrip Racing.
|Jarno Trulli" stepping up" from F1 to NASCAR!|
MWR people are saying the team is serious about the upcoming NASCAR test for former Toyota F1 driver Jarno Trulli.
Trulli will be driving a Sprint Cup series Toyota Camry on 16 and 17 November at the half-mile New Smyrna Speedway in Florida, a test that he has stressed he will be doing just for fun.
Mika Salo, also a former Toyota driver in the team's debut season in Formula 1, will be joining him.
Team owner Michael Waltrip is taking the opportunity to run Trulli in one of his cars seriously, even while reminding that the Italian's intentions are initially just to sample stock cars and ovals for the first time. zzzz
He says, however, that as any other driver, Trulli may want to be able to perform well on his maiden NASCAR outing.
"He just wants to try it out," Waltrip told AUTOSPORT. "But we're serious about the test, Toyota is supporting it, our team, engineers, everybody is into the test. We will give it all the effort that we would give to any test.
"I don't know what Jarno's plans are. I know he is just doing it for fun, but I know that it's going to be important for him to do it.
"He's a race car driver, he'll want to be as fast as anyone and so we're going to make sure that he has all the support that he needs to be able to accomplish that."
Steve Hallam, former McLaren head of operations, and current vice-president and director of competition for Michael Waltrip Racing, says that testing drivers from other series is part of the team's strategic planning for the future.
Although he believes Trulli still has options to remain in Formula 1, he leaves the door open for him or Salo maybe following into Juan Pablo Montoya's footsteps, if the right opportunity comes along.
"There's a great desire of ours to see how someone from another discipline just warms to what we do," Hallam told AUTOSPORT.
"If you look at Juan Pablo (Montoya), he is doing exceptionally well. He is a very, very talented driver, full stop. Whatever he drives, he would be good at and this year he is really showing that a driver from a single-seater background, particularly as open minded as Juan Pablo is, is really delivering in this series.
"Who knows? Strategically, MWR has always got to look at the future. If you stand still in this business, be it technical development or your business development, you'd be overrun.
"So we've always got an eye on the future. We'd love to expand to a fourth car when time and sponsorship and the right opportunity permits. Looking at drivers from other series is just as interesting and just as strategic as that."