Japan and the IRLEdit
The first Japanese driver to compete in the IndyCar Series was Hideshi Matsuda, who ran two races for Beck Motorsports in 1996 and 1999. Shigeaki Hattori became the series' first full-time Japanese driver in 2000, competing in the series until 2003. In 2003, Toranosuke Takagi finished 10th overall in the series' standings. Shinji Nakano and Hideki Noda have also competed in the IndyCar Series.
From 2004 to 2007, Kosuke Matsuura was the sole full-time Japanese competitor in the IndyCar Series. Hideki Mutoh ran one race in 2007 before replacing defending series champion Dario Franchitti at Andretti Green Racing in 2008.
Japan was the first foreign country to receive an IndyCar Series race. Held at the Twin Ring Motegi, a track built in 1997 by IRL engine supplier Honda, the 2003 IndyCar Series Season Indy Japan 300 was won by Scott Sharp.
Shinji Kashima was the first Japanese driver to compete in the Indy Pro Series, running one race in 2004 for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Racer Kashima and Akihira Okamoto both competed in the series in 2006. Mutoh ran the 2007 season for Panther Racing, scoring two wins and finishing 2nd in the series' standings to Alex Lloyd.
Japanese IRL DriversEdit
|Driver Name||Debut||Departure||Starts||Wins||Poles||Best Finish||Teams|
|Shigeaki Hattori||2000||2003||26||0||0||13th (2001)||A.J. Foyt Enterprises|
|Hideshi Matsuda||1996||1999||2||0||0||30th (1996)||Beck Motorsports|
|Hideki Mutoh||2007||Active||5||0||0||25th (2007)||Andretti Green Racing|
|Shinji Nakano||2003||2003||2||0||0||29th (2003)||Beck Motorsports|
|Hideki Noda||2002||2002||6||0||0||32nd (2002)||Convergent Racing|
Indy Regency Racing
|Toranosuke Takagi||2003||2004||32||0||0||10th (2003)||Mo Nunn Racing|