Team Stange Racing‘s maiden NASCAR Cup Series race will have to wait another month. On Monday, citing a holdup with receiving the sanctioning body’s approval for newcomer Tarso Marques, the team announced it will delay its Cup début from the upcoming Road America race to Watkins Glen International on 21 August. To prepare for the start, Marques and Stange hope to run the Xfinity Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 30 July.
An ARCA Menards Series operation, Team Stange expanded to the Cup Series for 2022 with plans of running eight races—including three road courses—with Marques, an ex-Formula One driver and Stock Car Brasil veteran. However, save for some CART races in 1999 and 2000, Marques possessed little oval experience and had never made any starts in NASCAR’s lower divisions. With NASCAR hesitant to approve drivers for its top level if they have no lower division racing whatsoever (hence the sanctioning recently tweaking its testing rules for outsiders with “elite credentials”), regardless of their résumé, the team intends to give him seat time in the Xfinity Series at Indianapolis.
“We have been working very hard to prep for the Cup races we plan on doing,” begins a team statement. “Just like everything in life, nothing goes as planned. Dignity Gold/Team Stange Racing and Tarso Marques will be at Indy in July to compete in the Xfinity Series race to get Tarso’s driver approval to move on to Watkins Glen and other races as we prepare for 2023.”
Some of the operation’s blueprint had already hit a rut, such as not entering the Camping World Truck Series race at Sonoma Raceway in early June despite initial intention to do so. In the meantime, the team has developed into a solid operation in the Dignity Gold GT Sprint Race, winning its maiden start with Ricardo Sperafico.
Marques has never raced at Indianapolis, though he came close during his final F1 season in 2001. Following the Belgian Grand Prix and in the midst of a points-less campaign, he was demoted by Minardi to reserve driver for the rest of the year and Alex Yoong finished out the season at Monza, Indianapolis, and Suzuka.
Stange has an ambitious project to introduce outside racers to stock cars, which includes a driver development programme with sporadic competition in ARCA. The team signed its first development driver Matteo Nannini, a former Formula 3 Championship competitor, in March with plans of running the ARCA Mid-Ohio race on 8 July.
If the matter works out, the Watkins Glen Cup race will see Marques compete against series newcomer Kimi Räikkönen, who raced with him in F1 in 2001. Räikkönen’s employer Trackhouse Racing Team also has a programme for international racing stars.