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NASCAR Cup Charlotte II

Rockenfeller: NASCAR "as challenging as anything else I have done"

Mike Rockenfeller got his first taste of NASCAR this year, running two Cup races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, and later at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.

Mike Rockenfeller, Spire Motorsports, Bon Secours and Swamp Rabbits Chevrolet Camaro

The 2010 Le Mans 24 overall winner made both starts with Spire Motorsports, driving the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro. Rockenfeller, 38, finished 30th at WGI and 29th at the Roval.

The German racing veteran was among a history-making field at Watkins Glen, which saw seven different countries represented in a single Cup race. Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat were among those international stars who took part.

Mike Rockenfeller, Spire Motorsports, Nations Guard Chevrolet Camaro

Mike Rockenfeller, Spire Motorsports, Nations Guard Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

For a long time, NASCAR ran just two road course races every season, but that number has tripled in recent years. Along with the Roval and Watkins Glen, the 2022 schedule took the top level of stock car racing to COTA, the IMS Road Course, Road America, and Sonoma.

Next year, NASCAR will hold its first ever street race in the city of Chicago. 

Despite encountering misfortune on track, Rockenfeller takes only positives from this experience. 

“With a little bit of luck, I think we ultimately had the pace to finish in the top 15 (at the Roval)," he said. "Whilst it wasn’t to be, I will still go home from America happy and I would gladly return to the NASCAR Cup Series in the future should the right opportunity arise.”

Rockenfeller defends NASCAR professionalism 

Rockenfeller also drew comparisons between American and European motorsports, noting the "unfair comments" made about NASCAR on the other side of the Atlantic. 

“I owe Spire Motorsports a big thank you for giving me this opportunity to further my career after 15 seasons in the DTM,” he said.

“We all know there are some unfair comments made in Europe about NASCAR, but I can honestly say that having to adapt my driving style to the Next Gen NASCAR and keeping things clean in the two races I have done has been as challenging as anything else I have done in my career. “What’s more, the professionalism of the race teams in NASCAR can easily be compared to what we are used to in European motorsport."

Rumors persist that Rockenfeller could be joining the NASCAR Garage 56 entry at Le Mans next year, the entry being organized by Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet. Over the past two years, Rockenfeller has competed alongside seven-tine NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in the IMSA endurances races, recently placing third overall at Petit Le Mans with fellow co-driver Kamui Kobayashi.

Mike Rockenfeller, Spire Motorsports, Bon Secours and Swamp Rabbits Chevrolet Camaro

Mike Rockenfeller, Spire Motorsports, Bon Secours and Swamp Rabbits Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

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