The No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro will feature a new driver for the trip to Watkins Glen International on August 21. The NASCAR team has brought on two-time 24 Hours of LeMans winner Mike Rockenfeller.
Spire Motorsport announced the news on August 9. The Cup Series team confirmed that the German will take over the No. 77 entry for the road course race. He will make his debut in a national NASCAR series while showcasing his road course racing experience. Rockenfeller will then return to the No. 77 in October for the Charlotte Roval race.
“Since starting my professional racing career back in the early 2000s, I’ve always kept a close eye on NASCAR,” Rockenfeller said in a press release. “What’s more, after teaming up with Jimmie Johnson — one of the heroes of the sport — my respect and appreciation for NASCAR has grown.
“It’s an immensely competitive series with some of the world’s greatest drivers racing wheel-to-wheel, merely centimeters apart. Room for error is minimal, at best. Watkins Glen is a difficult track in any car but given how sensitive and big a NASCAR Cup Series car is, I think this will be an even bigger challenge.”
ALL the latest NASCAR news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on NASCAR newsletter here!
Rockenfeller Has Achieved Success at Watkins Glen International
This August race at Watkins Glen International will mark Rockenfeller’s first start in the NASCAR Cup Series, but it will not be his first time taking on the road course. He has previous experience at the track.
Back in 2006, “Rocky” competed in Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen. He finished third overall. Fast-forward to 2022, and he partnered with Jimmie Johnson and Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi. They controlled the No. 48 Ally/Action Express Racing Cadillac and finished sixth overall.
This 2022 trip to Watkins Glen International was Rockenfeller’s fourth race in the No. 48 Cadillac. He was part of the team that finished second in the 2021 Rolex 24 at the Daytona Road Course. The team also finished fifth in the 2022 Rolex 24 and sixth in the 2022 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
“I’ve been fortunate to race LMP prototypes, DTM, and GTs, but now I’m ready to get my name out there in NASCAR,” Rockenfeller continued. “This is a huge honor for me to be racing the No. 77 NationsGuard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and I want to say thank you to Spire Motorsports for giving me this opportunity to start a new chapter in my career.”
Another International Driver Will Compete at Watkins Glen
When Rockenfeller makes his NASCAR debut at Watkins Glen International, he will join another international driver. Former Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen will make his NASCAR debut while driving for a different organization.
Trackhouse Racing, the team behind Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, announced in May that it would begin fielding an open, third entry in select races. Project91 was its name and bringing in international drivers was its purpose.
Raikkonen is the first driver to join Trackhouse Racing for this new venture. He will suit up for the Cup Series race at Watkins Glen on August 21 while officially making his NASCAR Cup Series debut.
Rockenfeller and Raikkonen are two of the guest drivers that will suit up for the road course race, but they will not be the only ones. Live Fast Motorsports will likely feature another driver considering that co-owner BJ McLeod has stepped out of the No. 78 during previous trips to road courses. Similarly, The Money Team Racing will potentially make its fourth start of the season with Kaz Grala in the No. 50.