NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Akinori Ogata has raced on tracks around the world, chasing his dream of competing in NASCAR’s premiere Sprint Cup Series. This summer he brought his talents to the quarter-mile at Charlotte Motor Speedway, competing for the first time against the best grassroots racers in the country at the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Series.
Originally from Japan, Ogata, 41, has been behind the wheel of a racecar for nearly three decades and knew that competing in the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout would not only be a chance for him to try something new, but for he and his son to compete together. Ogata is racing in a US Legend Car for the Security Force Master’s division, which features drivers 40 years of age or older. Ogata’s son, Ryo Ogata, is competing in the Young Lions division for the first time.
“My son Ryo started racing in April and has been doing really well,” said Ogata. “The Summer Shootout is something that he and I enjoy and hope to be back together in a Legend Car next year.”
In 2014, the elder Ogata joined Win-Tron Racing and made his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He has also raced in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
“The competition in the Truck Series is extremely competitive, but Legend Cars are a great deal of fun and I enjoy the experience,” said Ogata.
Tom Pistone, one of the current point leaders in the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Master’s division, has developed a strong relationship with Ogata and has helped teach him the art of driving a Legend Car.
“My current car is actually from him,” said Ogata. “I enjoy watching him because he is a good driver who I have learned a lot from.”
With only two races left in the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Series, Ogata is still hopeful for a win. His best finish this summer is fifth place, but he believes he is improving every week.
The competition in this series is heating up with a serious point’s battle, between Pistone and Scott Whitaker in the Master’s division. For Ogata though, this series means more to him than the points; it is about helping his son develop a passion for racing, being a strong international driver working toward his Sprint Cup Series dreams and taking advantage of the friendships he is making along the way.
The Bojangles’ Summer Shootout racing action continues with a double-header at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday and Tuesday, July 27 and 28. Champion’s Night, on Tuesday, marks the final round of racing and the last chance for drivers to race their way to a division title. The night will conclude with a huge fireworks extravaganza.
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Akinori Ogata race schedule:
9/26/15, 1pm – UNOH 175, NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY, Loudon, NH
10/24/15, 1pm – FRED’S 250, TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY, Talladega, AL
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