<
>

Akinori Ogata to make XFINITY debut at Phoenix

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Veteran racer Akinori Ogata (@AkinoriOgata) is prepared to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) debut in the penultimate race of the season next weekend at ISM (Ariz.) Raceway in the Nov. 10 running of the Whelen Trusted to Perform 200.

Ogata will drive the No. 66 Toyota Camry for Motorsports Business Management (MBM).

The Kanagawa, Japan native is set to embrace his first career Xfinity Series starts after competing in eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races, including one prior start at Phoenix in 2014 driving for Win-Tron Racing.

The 45-year-old Ogata also has a prior relationship with MBM Motorsports team principal Carl Long. In 2013, Long was instrumental into Ogata's progression in Late Model competition at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway.

"I'm very thankful to take this next stage of my career and compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next weekend at Phoenix," said Ogata. "I have worked very hard for this opportunity and plan to maximize this chance with MBM Motorsports."

Ogata's efforts at Phoenix will be supported by Fort Wayne, Ind.-based SEAVAC, a supplier of PVD coatings and other surface technologies for the 200-lap race.

"Without the support of SEAVAC this weekend would not be possible," sounded Ogata. "I've run one NASCAR national series race this year at the beginning of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway and while I qualified well, I didn't have the finish I was hoping for.

"I'm hoping that my prior experience at Phoenix will help with my transition to an Xfinity Series car. Our goals are modest, and I believe if I'm able to take the green flag and see the checkered flag, we would have accomplished our goals.

"SEAVAC is going to be a part of my racing endeavors in 2019, so a good effort will offer some momentum into the offseason."

Ogata began his racing career in Japanese Motocross at age 14. After a decade of riding that included around 30 feature victories, he shifted to Dirt Midget Car racing, becoming a winning driver at Twin Ring Motegi.

Ogata's assimilation to American racing began in 2003, driving Late Model Stock Cars at North Carolina's Hickory Motor Speedway. He continued in Late Models after moving to the United States in 2010 and later graduated to the NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East, where he competed in 12 races over three years, scoring five top-20 finishes.

Since graduating from the K&N Pro Series East, Ogata has competed in at least one Truck Series race since 2014. His best finish in seven Truck Series races is 18th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2015 driving for MB Motorsports.

For more on Akinori Ogata like his Facebook page (Akinori Ogata Racing) or follow him on Twitter @AkinoriOgata.

The Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 (200 laps | 200 miles) is the 32nd of 33 NASCAR Xfinity Series races on the 2018 schedule. Practice begins on Fri., Nov. 9 from 12:35 p.m. - 1:25 p.m. A final practice session is set for 2:35 p.m. - 3:25 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., Nov. 10 beginning at 10:35 a.m. The 40-car field will take the green flag shortly after 1:30 p.m. with live coverage on NBC, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All times are local (Mountain).

--- Akinori Ogata ---