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Jul 31, 2014 - 06:19 AM
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Akinori Ogata Determined To Bounce Back At Iowa Speedway
Posted by: newsla on Jul 31, 2014 - 06:16 AM
Akinori Ogata Determined To Bounce Back At Iowa Speedway

When Akinori Ogata (@AkinoriOgata) decided to start his own NASCAR K&N Pro Series East team this season, he knew that there would be highs and lows.


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Unfortunately, for the driver of the No. 56 ENEOS Toyota Camry, the season has been filled with more disappointments rather than triumphs. But, as the old saying always goes, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

Ogata, 40, hopes to see some of the light in Friday night’s Autolite Iridium XP 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series combination race. For the second time this season, the two series will unite as one and roar under the Iowa Speedway lights.

With over 40 entries pre-entered for a field of 36 cars, Ogata knows the importance of finding the balance of his No. 56 ENEOS Toyota Camry, but also getting ahead of the curve and being prepared to qualify his Akinori Performance entry on time.

“I’m anxious to get (back) to Iowa,” said Ogata. “It’s the place where I have the most experience in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, so I’m hoping that experience will prove to be beneficial this week. It’s important race for us. I’m disappointed that we haven’t been able to give our friends at ENEOS the finishes they deserve, but hopefully that will change this weekend.”

Indeed, the 0.875-mile paved oval of Iowa Speedway is the track where Ogata has turned the most laps in his young NASCAR K&N Pro Series career. In three prior starts, he has a best finish of 20th last year. Furthermore, the Kanagawa, Japan native has been able to solidly earn a starting spot based on his qualification speed for all three events.

“Iowa is one of those place where I was able to catch onto the groove quickly,” added Ogata. “We still have a lot to learn with our No. 56 ENEOS Toyota Camry, but I think my prior experience at Iowa without a doubt will pay dividends this week. You have to be able to carry your momentum at Iowa, but also have the car handling perfectly so you can get the correct arch you want in the corner so that you can carry your speed. It’s a very technical place for a short track, but I love it!”

For Iowa, Steve Bird will take the reins of crew chief for the avid racer. Bird with a long-lasting and impressive resume in NASCAR races has attended the races with Akinori Performance this season, but worked alongside crew chief Dale Quarterly.

“I appreciate all the hard work that Dale (Quarterly) has poured into our program this season, but I’m equally thrilled to work with Steve this weekend,” Ogata said. “Steve has been around our program a lot this season, back in the shop and on the road, so he knows what I’m looking for from our No. 56 ENEOS Toyota Camry, but anyone that been around Steve also knows that he expects a lot from his driver. He’s going to encourage me to drive harder and put our car on the edge, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from that. Hopefully we can have a good run together Friday night and look towards our remaining race(s) this season.”

In addition to ENEOS and new co-partner KBD Group, WPC, MOONEYES and WRD will serve as associate marketing partners for the 12th race of the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season.

ENEOS is the brand name for products manufactured and sold by JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., the largest oil company in Japan. ENEOS products are the highest quality lubricants available in the marketplace today. These products use advanced additive and base oil technology, the result of joint engineering and research with all of the Japanese automotive manufactures. ENEOS lubricants provide exceptional performance, power and protection for a wide variety of applications including race cars, motorcycles and street automobiles.

“We would not be going to Iowa without ENEOS and all of our partners,” remarked Ogata. “I know we haven’t given ENEOS everything that they deserve, but we’re going to push harder than we’ve ever had before and hopefully that mindset will push us to a season-best run.”

Ogata has 11 career NKNPSE starts to his credit. He made his debut in 2012 at Gresham (Ga.) Motorsports Park, the site of his career-best finish of 15th after starting 26th. He also produced a 16th-place effort at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) last year.

The Autolite Iridium XP 150 is set for Friday night August 1 from “America’s Place To Race.” The 150-lap (131.25-mile) feature is scheduled to take the green flag shortly after 8:00 p.m. (local). The race will be tape-delayed on FOX Sports 1 with an air date on Friday, August 8 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

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