NASCAR

Team Stange Racing forms international NASCAR driver development programme, signs Matteo Nannini

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Credit: Joe Portlock/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Team Stange Racing plans to début its NASCAR Cup Series side with Tarso Marques, a Brazilian driver who previously competed in Formula One. Now, the team hopes to do the same for other drivers outside the United States.

On Tuesday, the team announced the formation of a driver development programme with the explicit goal of helping international drivers break into the world of NASCAR and stock car racing. It will be led by team vice president Doug Knight.

The programme’s first member is Matteo Nannini, who will run a part-time ARCA Menards Series schedule in the team’s #46 Ford Mustang starting at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on 8 July. Nannini makes the jump to stock cars after climbing through the European formula ladder. The 2019 Formula 4 UAE champion spent the last two years competing in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, which included scoring his lone series win at the Hungaroring in 2021 and a podium as he finished fourteenth in points. The Italian-Argentinian also ran nine races in Formula 2 and scored a point in the Bahrain feature round.

Nannini did not return to F3 for 2022 as employer HWA Racelab was bought out by Van Amersfoort Racing who signed different drivers. However, he had already been eyeing a move to America; in October, he participated in Indy LightsChris Griffis Memorial Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Juncos Hollinger Racing and set the second-fastest time in three of six sessions.

“I’m very excited to make my NASCAR début and race for championships in the United States,” commented Nannini. “I look forward to gaining more experience and developing my racing skills in a new car that will make me a more diverse driver.”

A full ARCA schedule for Nannini beyond Mid-Ohio was not immediately revealed, but his background means one can assume the 18-year-old will also enter the other road course on the calendar at Watkins Glen International on 19 August. Road course aces often see solid results at similarly brake-heavy short tracks, which ARCA frequently visits.

“Our goal is to find talented drivers, develop their abilities through our customised high-speed programme and prepare them for competing at the highest levels of motorsports,” stated team president John Stange Jr. “We believe that Matteo with his strong road racing background will find his way around the track in his new surroundings very quickly.”

Knight explained the team is “going to find drivers who have the talent and give them a fair shot at making it to the highest ranks of racing. We’re very excited to work with a rising star in Matteo and look forward to introducing him to the NASCAR scene, which will allow him to grow and become more diverse on the track.”

Outside of the Cup Series, Stange also fields a car in the Dignity Gold GT Sprint Race for Ricardo Sperafico. Sperafico won the team’s maiden race at Autódromo Internacional de Santa Cruz do Sul earlier in March.

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Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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