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Trulli committed to F1 despite NASCAR test

Toyota Formula One driver Jarno Trulli of Italy holds his trophy after finishing second behind Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany at the Japanese F1 Grand Prix in Suzuka, central Japan October 4, 2009. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

LONDON (Reuters) - Italian Jarno Trulli says he is fully committed to Formula One despite lining up a two-day NASCAR test with the Michael Waltrip Racing team in Florida next month.

The Toyota driver, who is unlikely to be retained by his team after the end of the season, issued a statement on Wednesday to clarify reports about a possible switch to American racing.

“Last year I had the chance to visit a NASCAR race at Michigan, which was a really interesting experience for me,” he said.

“NASCAR is one of the most significant motorsport series in the world and I was very curious to see the racing first hand.

“At the time I asked the Toyota guys in the U.S. if it would be possible to one day test a car just for fun and before the Belgian Grand Prix they offered me the chance to do so later in the year.”

The 35-year-old Trulli said, however, that the November test at Lakeland in Florida was purely an opportunity to try out another category of motorsport for his own personal pleasure.

“My commitment is 100 percent to Formula One,” added the Italian, who finished second in last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who won seven grands prix for Williams and McLaren between 2001 and 2005, is the most successful driver to switch from Formula One to NASCAR.

Steve Hallam, a former McLaren chief engineer, is now director of competition at Michael Waltrip Racing. Reports in America have said Trulli will be joined by Finnish former F1 racer Mika Salo at the test.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Ed Osmond