- Marty Smith, ESPN
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LONDON -- Formula One veteran David Coulthard is open to the thought of a future move to NASCAR, but not until his F1 days are solidly over.
"I would consider something like NASCAR," Coulthard said just before practice for the Race of Champions. "I don't think I would consider IRL. The only thing is, America, you have to commit to it absolutely. Which means you move out there, take your family there.
"But I'd certainly consider it. This will be my 15th season in Formula One. After that ... I'll do this as long as I'm having fun, as long as they keep saying 'Would you like to continue?'"
Coulthard said NASCAR's lengthy 38-week schedule is of no concern to him. He said he has in the past raced every week but Christmas weekend, "and that wasn't a problem. It's not hard to get in private planes."
He also feels the influx of foreign driving talent, like his former F1 mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villaneuve, into NASCAR bolsters the perception of stock car racing internationally.
"I think it's checking the box of NASCAR," he said. "Generally, people in Formula One haven't really been that aware of NASCAR, and of what we have been aware of we've probably higher respect for NASCAR than what we have for the oval racing IRL.
"That may come as a surprise, but as a single-seater racer in Europe, the perception in Europe is if you're fat on a super speedway, yes there's tactics, but how is that more challenging than driving Monaco? That's a simplistic view, I know, and I've not done it. But [Jacques] Villaneuve's a friend of mine who's obviously won over there [in IRL], come over to F1 and won in F1. I just know it's a different challenge."
As Coulthard's F1 colleague Jenson Button described it, "it's like comparing football and cricket."
"NASCAR is so different, and any of us in a touring car would find how difficult they are relative to a single-seater," Coulthard continued. "So all it does is keep checking the boxes [for NASCAR].
"If they keep getting, it doesn't have to be European drivers, but if they keep getting foreign drivers in the championship it's only a matter of time before it becomes more and more [followed] around the world.
"From a NASCAR point of view, from what I can see they're not fumbling with the business model to make money and everyone's doing very well. But it can't hurt any business to expand. And yeah, maybe it's frowned upon by some of the good ol' boys. But the Jimmie Johnsons, the consistent talented guys, will still be there and mixing it with these drivers from other formulas -- and beating them."
Coulthard explained the NASCAR dynamic overseas as such:
"I don't think it's a lack of respect, certainly not from me," he said. "When I mention NASCAR to people I don't get any [negative] perception to NASCAR. 'Oh, [expletive] NASCAR?' I don't get that at all. I think it's a lack of knowledge.
"I think that what we Europeans struggle with a little bit is sort of the high-fiving, chest-bouncing, hey buddy ... That type of thing is not part of [our culture]. So I think it's more about entertainment and people have got more confidence to express their joy and happiness. In the States that's the whole sports culture."
Marty Smith covers motorsports for ESPN.com.
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