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Katherine Legge
Brian Cleary

British IMSA driver Katherine Legge to make NASCAR debut at Mid-Ohio

In her diverse and thriving career, Katherine Legge has raced GT cars, IndyCars, and IMSA sports cars. She’s competed in the Indianapolis 500 and stood on the podium in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

And this weekend the popular and talented Brit will make her NASCAR debut in the Xfinity Series’ Rock n Roll Tequila 170 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Then she’ll return two weeks later to compete — alongside NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott — at the Xfinity road-course race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

If it were up to Legge, should she secure sponsorship she’ll gladly return to NASCAR in September to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

First, however, there is Mid-Ohio — where she will steer the No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet in her stock-car debut.

“What I’d really like to do, is do a couple of these races and hopefully learn and hopefully have done a good job and hopefully raise some money and do the ROVAL race at the end of the year,” Legge said. “I know that’s going to be a tall order, but I have my eyes on more that’s for sure.”

Legge’s background and current job competing in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series have provided lots of opportunity to know other former and current NASCAR drivers — all of whom have encouraged her to take this next step in her career.

Andy Lally, the 2011 Monster Energy Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, is a good friend and former teammate. NASCAR competitor Justin Marks is currently a teammate on the Meyer Shank Racing GTD class team Legge drives for full-time in IMSA.

She has a win (at Belle Isle-Detroit) and four podium finishes so far this season in IMSA and is ranked second in the GTD class driver’s standings. Last year, her first with the Acura NSX GT3 program, she and co-driver Lally had two wins, four podiums and a pole.

“I’m really lucky that I have some really good friends in racing,” Legge said this week. “I’ve always wanted to do NASCAR, but (over the years) some friends said, ‘No not now,’ because it wasn’t the right team or right series.

“Andy Lally actually helped put this two-race deal together. … It’s going to start me off a little more low key and get the experience in driving a stock car. I’m really excited and nervous.

“I’m lucky I have Andy, and AJ Allmendinger is a friend of mine and Justin Marks, my teammate in IMSA. So I’ve got some really cool people to ask advice of, so I’m lucky for that.”

Looking at her racing resume, the top-shelf credentials are certainly there for 38-year-old Legge. Now, she concedes, she needs time behind the wheel in a stock car. Her first laps in practice this weekend will be her first laps ever in a stock car. As for knowing the track, she finished runner-up in the GTD class at Mid-Ohio in the IMSA race there earlier this season.

“Andy (Lally) and I are planning on watching some previous races and going over things this week,” Legge said. “But that’s the extent of it. I haven’t been able to test, I haven’t been able to get on the simulator. But the team is so professional and so good, hopefully they will help me through it.”

Legge left open the option of making more NASCAR starts in the future — perhaps beyond even road-course venues. In fact, for all her good work on road courses, she scored a ninth-place finish in the Verizon IndyCar Series oval race at Fontana, California (2012), which is also a NASCAR venue.

“I love oval racing, ever since I got the opportunity to drive an IndyCar on an oval,” Legge said. “It’s something I love doing. … If the opportunity came up, I’d love to, it would be a dream come true. My bread and butter has been sports cars for years. We’ll see. I just want to get through Mid-Ohio first.”