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HomeUncategorizedWhat's next for Kimi Raikkonen after his NASCAR Cup debut?

What's next for Kimi Raikkonen after his NASCAR Cup debut?

Will Kimi Raikkonen’s appetite be sufficiently whetted by his first NASCAR Cup Series race to come back again? This is the million dollar question.

Over the years, this writer has covered former Formula 1 stars Mika Hakkinen, Jean Alessi, Hein in DTM and Nigel Mansell among others Z-Harald Frentzen with David Coulthard, Gianni Morbidelli, Derek Warwick and Johnny Herbert in the British Touring Car Championship. So why would a driver who excelled at the peak of motorsport and achieved great things feel the need to put a roof over their heads?

From a raw point of view, the loss of whites – in each case the intense competition is certainly a strong motivator, the reduction in income (although we assume they don’t exactly live on the poverty line above) and self-driven demands to stay in the spotlight to showcase their talents.

While more time with family is desirable after a grueling, time-consuming career, drivers will enjoy having fun on the track with like-minded buddies after a while prospects, which is understandable. While racers want you to believe they are multi-faceted people with amazing cultures, experience has shown that they are not as multi-dimensional as they would like you to believe. But they’re absolutely hungry for competition, and once you get a taste of the rarity, this tooth-and-claw fight is hard to get out of completely.

While Trackhouse Racing first launched its Project 91 program when the NASCAR Cup Series was geared up to attract top international stars, reporters picked who they’d like to see in the hot seat . “Kimi Raikkonen has raced NASCAR Trucks and Xfinity before, he must be bored now,” I wrote. Lo and behold, it’s here.


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Why choose Nas Card?

Ahead of Sunday’s Watkins Canyon, Raikkonen has not raced a car since the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, It was the last of his 349 F1 races. His illustrious career was proud of the 2007 World Championship, 21 Grand Prix victories and over 100 F1 podiums.

In the 251 days since, a guy who has driven almost 100,000km in an F1 car didn’t drive the car with real anger until Sunday at “The Glen”. It’s certainly fun to see him back on the field, and personal enjoyment seems to be the real motivator for him all weekend. After he started his truck and Xfinity range from F1’s hiatus in 2011, it seemed like a good fit for Raikkonen and Project 91’s ambitions.

Raikkonen got back into the cut and thrust of racing in an unfamiliar environment against an all-new cast of rivals at Watkins Glen

Raikkonen is back on the field in unfamiliar surroundings with a new rival to Watkins Glen

Photo: Motorsport Images

“It’s very different from the last time I was here,” Raikkonen recalls at the Charlotte Oval Said during a NASCAR race on the track. “Very easy.

” The schedule is very different from last time. What happened to a lot of sports post-COVID is they found that we really don’t need to spend as many days on the track on the weekends. Obviously in hindsight it would have been better for me if we had more practice, but that’s what it is.

“I really like it. It’s more of a family atmosphere than F1, so I like it.”

Raikkonen in his He has been with his wife Minttu and his sons and daughters on their weeks-long American adventure. While F1 drivers rarely have an entire young family by their side, in NASCAR it’s normal to have their buddies and kids stand in the pits if they want to – or hang out in a large motorhome that often has a playground nearby

Raikkonen (pictured with team-mate Daniel Suarez) was treated with revery by many of his Cup competitors Typically, Raikkonen did not perform at all in wet conditions in the early stages of the race fear. He ran 14th before his pit stop and then pitted for a slick

while they were doing their thing , Raikkonen was able to do what he loves – drive a car – and joke around with his new opponent.

“Generally, it’s good whoever plays,” he said. “It’s always exciting when you’re racing against someone who’s never raced you before.

“[At NASCAR] they’re very professional. The rules are a little different from what I’m used to, but I’m so excited to meet these guys here. I remember last time – they were relaxed, easy going and easy to talk to other drivers. It’s a little different from where I’m used to. “

While many think Raikkonen’s answers to furry questions are often monosyllabic, his heartbeat is real. Ask him James Hunt or Colin McRae’s thing, he’s a very talkative guy and Watkins Glen doesn’t have more F1 history than him…

“Obviously I know a little bit of F1 history here, seen some old videos, “It’s a great place, and it’s a nice place to be,” he said. It’s kind of like the middle of nowhere, but I’m enjoying it. Nice to be here. “

Raikkonen likes to take his family to the track, in the NASCAR paddock “more family Atmosphere” compared to F1

Photo by Motorsport Images

Why it’s never been easy

While the DTM, the World Endurance Championship or even a return to the World Rally Championship might be easier for him, Raikkonen embarked on an almost completely alien culture in his first race since F1 and made a one-off cameo into the proverbial lion’s den in the second half of the intense NASCAR Cup season.

Thanks to NASCAR’s test rules, he didn’t sprint around the test track like Mansell did during his BTCC cameo in 1998. West Surrey Motorsport owner Dick Bennetz tells a great story , recounts taking a high-end catering unit to Pembra for private testing, only to find the 1992 F1 world champion sitting in his Jaguar eating a sandwich his wife made for him. That said, there is a photo of Raikkonen in his RV with a cream cake and a tin of Perrier…

Before his Cup debut, Raikkonen was in the Next Gen test car on the VIR road circuit – Ironically, he ripped up one of Robby Gordon’s Dodge Cup cars in 2011 – along with some courses in a Chevrolet NASCAR simulator. The first time he actually drove his 91 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was on Saturday platoon 20 minutes of practice before the race (interrupted twice by red flags), which he wisely sees as a race.

He qualified 27th, Raikkonen against him Satisfied with the lack of track time. From my experience covering these competitive ex-F1 animals, brief moments of brilliance, combined with an understanding of the difficulty and professionalism of the series, are all too common.

Perhaps more importantly, Raikkonen’s involvement creates an opportunity for F1 fans to learn about the new series – Sunday’s Cup at Glenn is an interesting race (at Started after a heavy rain delay), with a different strategy, some great round-to-round matches and a typical hard-fought finish.

Credit to Raikkonen for receiving the Welcome in the NASCAR paddock. Martin Blundell tells an epic tale of the International Championship Series, a 1980 A series of single-build cars in the US in the late 1990s and 1990s, in which he excelled. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was sitting in his car preparing for the Michigan Superspeedway final when Dale Earnhardt Sr paid a visit and gave some wise advice: “Don’t forget your kids.”

Compared to Raikkonen’s previous press conference asking which seat Raikkonen was sitting in – just so he could sit there – it shows how much cup regulars have for the Finn respect. It looked like he had a clean run throughout the game until an unfortunate clash put him out.

Raikkonen (pictured with the team – teammate Daniel Suarez was shot by him Many of the Cup Competitors

Photos courtesy of: Motorsport Images

He How’s it going

Typically, Raikkonen showed no fear at all in wet conditions in the early stages of the race. Before the pit stop, He ran to 14th, then pitted for a slick, and crew chief Darian Grubb tried to nurse him to a window where he could finish in two races – but he was a few laps behind due to shriveled tires.

However, this alternative strategy meant he would run with the Hounds at the start of Stage 2, restart in 10th and immediately grab a spot from Chris Buescher. He peaked in 8th , because Todd Gilliland broke an axle in front of him, and then Hendrick Racing’s Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson galloped by — and they would end up fighting for the win.

In fact, Raikkonen was never really chasing at the front, but his hopes of a possible top 20 finish were dashed when Austin Dillon broke away in the inner ring shortly after the final stage restart. In the car stack that followed, Loris Hezemans ran behind Brad Keselowski and Raikkonen’s right front corner caught Hezemans’ left rear corner. After more than one painful collision, he lost control and stabbed left.

“Nothing planned after this. I want to have fun and try my best We can. I think it’s just a good challenge, it’s a new experience” Kimi Lai Corning

“I had a good line there, but everyone seemed to be going to the left,” he explained. “Sorry I didn’t have time to react.

“The first hit, someone hit the tire or the wheel directly, the [steering] wheel slipped. Wrist problem, but that’s how it is.”

Raikkonen crawled out, his pride and ambition may As sunken as a car or his wrist.


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Raikkonen got back into the cut and thrust of racing in an unfamiliar environment against an all-new cast of rivals at Watkins Glen What’s next?

Raikkonen’s NASCAR cameo certainly proved his desire to compete – as Trackhouse owner Justin Marks expected Ass” – which is as bright as the days the writer saw him running around during the 2000 British Formula Renault season. Raikkonen is also a shapely Raikkonen with zero overperformance after ‘F1’, but also a generally incomprehensible person…

“There are no plans after this ,”He says. “I want to have fun and do the best we can. I think it’s just a good challenge, a new experience.”

Maybe he has made it, maybe he wants more Much – that’s only he knows: “We’ll see, I don’t know,” he shrugs when urged.

Raikkonen excelled in the early wet of the game , but never really compete on the cutting edge

Photo: Motorsport Images

For Trackhouse, this is definitely It’s a project to expand your horizons. Marks, one of the sharpest and most ambitious people in the NASCAR paddock, said he wants Project 91 to include “all road courses this season, and then maybe some major events like the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, or Something like that.

“I think at some point, you’re going to have so many races that you have to think about actually deploying a third full-time car. But I think for Project 91, it’s probably six or eight games next year and beyond. “

So the door has been opened, and now it’s up to Raikkonen to see if he wants it. On the one hand, he probably won’t make a fuss about all the media attention he’s getting, although he’s proving to be very Enjoy the respect his opponents have for him.

In classic Raikkonen style, he commented after a reporter asked why he was risking his good reputation with an expected NASCAR failure: “I don’t think there is any risk. …..Why not? What must I lose? I don’t care if I don’t do well in NASCAR or any race…I do it for myself. A good or bad end result, it can happen even if I play 20 games. They can all be bad for many different reasons. I don’t see any negative effects.

“What Justin and the team are doing is great for all of us from Europe people provide opportunities. It’s not well known…obviously, NASCAR has been better known there over the years, but I’m sure there are a lot of drivers out there who would like a chance to try it. It’s not going to be easy, so maybe it will open some doors in the future for more opportunities to try and get more Europeans into the sport. “

Even if Raikkonen didn’t come back, that would be great to remind him of his contempt for a stupid question, and to have him as a cheerleader for the project to expand global awareness of the most isolated American race car Interest in sports.

Whether Raikkonen will return and become a NASCAR regular is unclear

Photography: Motorsport Images



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