Akinori Ogata will return to Emerling-Gase Motorsports at Martinsville Speedway as he attempts to make his second NASCAR Xfinity Series start for the team in 2023.
Ogata, who finished 29th for the team at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season, will pilot the No. 53 Chevrolet Camaro at Martinsville Speedway. The car will carry primary sponsorship from Shiano Pneumatic Tool.
Emerling-Gase Motorsports made the announcement on Thursday morning.
“We are excited to have Akinori behind the wheel at Martinsville, his journey inspires us all and he is a great short track driver,” Team owner Joey Gase stated.
The car will be decked out in a beautiful black, and red paint scheme, which is equipped with white stars peppered throughout the scheme. Below the Shinano logo on the hood of the car will be a special logo signifying the 20 years that Ogata, a Japanese-born racer, has been racing in the United States.
“This paint scheme has a little 20th-anniversary logo on it,” Ogata explains in a team press release. “That logo means that I have been racing in the United States for 20 years, since 2003. 20 years later, and I haven’t given up. I’m still working had doing NASCAR racing and I’m enjoying living in North Carolina.”
While the logo is just a small marker, that shows his 20 years of racing in the United States, Ogata says it’s an important symbol for more reasons than just his racing career.
“I just put this logo on to mark this milestone. It is small and looks not so special, but it means a lot because when I came to North Carolina in 2003, I had nothing here, no family, and of course no friends. But today, I have many supporters here and I am still here to race.”
Ogata is a frequent competitor and race winner at Hickory Motor Speedway, and he has also been competing in the legends division at Charlotte Motor Speedway this season between his starts at Hickory and in NASCAR.
The 50-year-old racer was also part of the Japanese broadcast team for the NASCAR Cup Series event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which featured Japanese road racing star Kamui Kobayashi.