Kenko Miura announces his return to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as the owner-driver of the debuting Team Japan NEEDS24 on next weekend’s NASCAR GP Belgium at Circuit Zolder.

Kenko Miura will be returning to NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Circuit Zolder next weekend after it was announced that Miura is competing as an owner-driver for the newly debuting Team Japan NEEDS24.

Miura, a Tokyo native who works as a driving instructor and media person for Toyota and Lexus in his home country, has been active in EuroNASCAR for four seasons. Having made his debut on a part-time basis with Alex Caffi Motorsport in 2017, he became the first Japanese driver to compete full-time in the series when he competed full-time in what was then known as the Elite 1 class in 2018.

That year saw Miura achieve his biggest success in EuroNASCAR to date as he beat Dario Caso to claim the overall Challenger Trophy honors. He also competed in the EN2 class that year and took home a surprise podium finish in the penultimate race at Zolder, making him the first and only Japanese driver to have scored a podium in EuroNASCAR as of today.

Miura was due to compete full-time with DF1 Racing in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic greatly limited his opportunities to race as Japan’s strict traveling restrictions meant that he was only able to make it to the season-ending doubleheader round at Valencia. 

Further restrictions meant that Miura was forced to sit out the entire 2021 racing season. Thankfully, with the world at large opening up this year, it has opened an opportunity for Miura to race again as he made his return to motorsport earlier this year with a surprise maiden appearance in the Camping World Truck Series at Mid-Ohio.

Miura understands that it would be a challenge to race as an owner-driver with a new team, but he is excited at the prospect of returning to the EuroNASCAR championship as he hopes that his return at Zolder will create a foundation for a full return in 2023.

“In recent years, I haven’t been racing due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Miura. “But I made a dream come true this year by participating in a US NASCAR race. This experience added great value to my racing career.”

“Now I’m back in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series with my own team. I thank the NWES and all the teams I raced for in the past for all those opportunities. My goal is to add even more international flair to the series as a Japanese owner and driver. I know it’s a tough challenge. I won the Challenger Trophy once and still want to improve. I’m looking forward to the race at Circuit Zolder, a fun track and I hope that it will be the foundation of my full-time comeback in NWES for 2023.”

Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard and Reaume Brothers Racing.

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