Japanese driver Hideki Mutoh will make his first IndyCar appearance in 2011 in the last race in front of his home crowd in Motegi.
Mutoh, who spent three full seasons in the series with Andretti Autosport and Newman/Haas Racing, will drive the No. 17 Honda Formula Dream AFS/SSM Racing entry on the Motegi road course.
Raphael Matos and Martin Plowman have each had a handful of starts aboard that car either in AFS-only or joint Schmidt/AFS efforts. Mutoh, the 2008 IndyCar Rookie of the Year, has a best career finish of second at Iowa and, in three prior starts on the Motegi oval, came home 11th in 2008 and 14th each of the last two seasons.
“Though this is only one race, it means a lot to me to be able to race in front of my home crowd again,” Mutoh said. “This has been a tough year for Japan and I hope we can bring some excitement to the many fans. I am determined to do well and put up a strong performance for the team. It will also help having Alex Tagliani as a teammate and I really cannot wait to get started.”