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Drivers Who Made the Jump From F1 to NASCAR

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Bryan Moyers

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Former Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Project 91 at COTA. While it is not the first start for the open wheel ace, it did beg the question of “who else has driven in both F1 and NASCAR?” Besides Talladega Nights’ Jean Girard, that is.

Daniil Kvyat

Kvyat drove in the F1 ranks from 2014-2021 for several different teams. In NASCAR, Kvyat raced for Team Hezeberg in 2022 at the Indianapolis road course, Watkins Glen, and Charlotte’s Roval. He never finished above 36th while suffering from mechanical failure twice.

The Russian driver’s presence on the Cup Series grid came at a time when international tensions were increasingly high with Russia and its people. Kvyat was proud to get behind the wheel in the US as he told Jack Benyon for The Race.

I think that’s how it should be. Sport should unite people and it’s amazing how they showed it, and it’s a great example for everyone else also back in Europe.

Jacques Villeneuve

An F1 World Champion in 1997, Villeneuve also won the 1995 Indianapolis 500. His stock car racing experience wasn’t so illustrious as he started 5 Cup races scattered from 2007 to 2022. His highest finish was 21st at Talladega.

He added 16 races in NASCAR’s feeder series, finishing in the top-5 in an Xfinity Series race 4 times in the years following his 2007 Truck Series debut.

Nelson Piquet Jr

Piquet is the son of a racing legend with the same name. The younger Piquet never found the success his father did, but he did spread his experience among many motorsports disciplines. His F1 career was only 28 starts from 2008-2009.

After his contract with Renault ran its course, Piquet came to the US to race in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series. Piquet found some success in trucks in his 4 year career, winning 2 races in 2012 – Michigan and Las Vegas. Piquet also picked up a win in the Xfinity Series at Road America in 2012. His lone Cup start came in 2014 at Watkins Glen where he finished 26th.

Scott Speed

With a name like Scott Speed, you have to end up behind the wheel of a fast car, right? Speed worked his way through developmental series up to a Formula 1 seat for the Red Bull owned Torro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in the 2006-2007 seasons. While Speed finished in the top-10 three times for the team in their inaugural season, 2007 was abysmal for Scott. He only started 10 of the season’s 17 Grand Prix, and out of those only finished 3 times.

The year following his disappointing F1 season, Speed joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He started 16 races in his single truck season, winning the Dover race and finishing T10 eight more times.

Speed also made his Cup debut in 2008, driving again for a Red Bull team. He ran just 5 races in 2008 before going full-time in 2009. In 09-10, Speed collected three top-10s with the highest being 5th in 2009 at Talladega. After 2010, Speed was released from his Red Bull Racing contract in favor of Brian Vickers. Speed would sue Red Bull and bounce around various NASCAR Cup teams in the three years following his release.

Black Flags Matter took a look at Speed’s NASCAR moments.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo might be the most successful of the drivers to jump from F1 to NASCAR. At least, he found the most success and raced the longest in NASCAR. After winning a CART championship in his rookie season of 1999, Juan Pablo followed that up with an Indy 500 victory in 2000. As prolific as his US open wheel career was, the Colombian native got the call to Europe to race in Formula 1. Montoya’s F1 career spanned from 2001-2006, the highlight of which was three wins in 2005.

In NASCAR, JPM raced for Chip Ganassi and his partnerships from 2007-2013. He won twice and finished top-10 57 more times.

JPM might be most known for his unfortunate, fiery wreck with a jet dryer at the 2012 Daytona 500.

The Iceberg recently took a look at Montoya’s career.

Jim Clark

Born in 1936, Jimmy Clark was once regarded as the best racecar driver to ever do it. Winning 25 F1 races from 1960 to 1968, he captured the World Championship twice and led more than half of the laps he completed.

Clark also raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Champ Car before getting an invite to “The Rock” from Bill France, Sr. France was in search of ways to promote NASCAR as the sport was taking off 20 years into its existence. France called the 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner, knowing that would attract substantial attention from all motorsports fans.

Clark accepted the invitation out of “just curiosity,” saying, “I’m doing it for the fun of it. I just want to have a look at how this type of racing goes.” He was quoted by Mark Dill in an article for First Super Speedway, “It’s quite different from Grand Prix racing. The competition is closer and you have to make your judgments quicker.”

“The Flying Scot” drove a Ford Fairlane for Holman-Moody, working his way up to as high as 12th place in the star-studded field. In addition to NASCAR talent Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, and David Pearson, the race also featured A.J. Foyt, future Indy winner Gordon Johncock, and an Italian road ace Lodovico Scarfiotti.

Unfortunately, Clark’s stock car adventure was never continued. He died tragically in a Formula 2 race the following spring. It would be 60 years before another F1 driver would make the NASCAR leap.

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Picture of Bryan Moyers

Bryan Moyers

These articles are written perfect and staggered special. If you wanna read em, they CAN inform you. -Harry Hogge, probably.
All Posts