NASCAR Xfinity Series

Akinori Ogata returns to Xfinity at Loudon, Texas

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Credit: Akinori Ogata

Japanese driver Akinori Ogata is back in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the #13 Toyota GR Supra for MBM Motorsports. He will run two races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on 16 July and Texas Motor Speedway on 24 September, both of which will be new tracks for him but venues on which he has prior experience in the Camping World Truck Series.

“I have an exciting announcement today for my race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” begins Ogata in a video posted on social media. “I’m going to drive the #13 MBM Motorsports Toyota GR Supra at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16 and Texas Motor Speedway on September 24. I’m so glad to be back to racing Xfinity Series. My paint scheme’s very cool those races so stay tuned.”

The 48-year-old Kanagawa native first appeared in the Xfinity Series in 2018, where he finished thirty-third at Phoenix in a one-off for MBM. After a two-year absence, he returned in 2021 for Jimmy Means Racing at Richmond and B.J. McLeod Motorsports at Martinsville, respectively finishing thirty-fourth and twenty-six.

Much of Ogata’s starts have come in the Truck Series, where he has competed since 2014 on a part-time basis including the last three seasons with Reaume Brothers Racing. His lone Truck start of 2022 to date came at Darlington in May, where he suffered an engine failure after fifty-four laps.

Ogata made his first start at Texas during the 2020 Truck season, finishing twenty-fifth. In two Truck races at New Hampshire in 2015 and 2016 with MB Motorsports, he has an eighteenth (his career best in the series) and thirty-first.

A former motocross racer who has seen success back home, Ogata dreams of becoming the first Japanese driver to run the Daytona 500 and moved to the United States in 2003 to pursue this aspiration. In addition to his part-time NASCAR starts, he does late model racing throughout the U.S. In April, he scored his first stock car victory in a Limited Late Model event at Hickory Motor Speedway. He has won three more times in his late model since.

He is one of six drivers from Japan to have competed in a NASCAR national series race, joining Hideo Fukuyama, Shigeaki Hattori, Kenji Momota, and Toshio Suzuki. Fukuyama is the only member of the quintet to have Cup experience while Momota has worked as a colour commentator for Japanese NASCAR broadcasts. Ogata also had a Darlington throwback to Momota for the 2021 spring Darlington Truck race. Takuma Koga also has plans of competing in the MBM #13 in 2022, though a specific date has not been revealed.

The #13, which is thirty-sixth in owner points, has been filled by multiple drivers including Natalie Decker, Chad Finchum, Timmy Hill, Matt Jaskol, Stan Mullis, and J.J. Yeley. However, the car pales in comparison to the flagship #66, having made only six starts while failing to qualify five times. Jaskol holds the #13’s best finish of the season of eighteenth at Portland.

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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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