In August, Kimi Raikkonen will compete in a NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen for the first time since leaving Formula One.
Raikkonen will drive a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with team member Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain in the race track event at Watkins Glen on August 21.
Raikkonen will make his first participation in a racing competition after ending his 20-year Formula One journey with his farewell performance for Alfa Romeo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.
During his hiatus from Formula One, the 2007 world champion competed in one Nationwide Series event – now known as the Xfinity Series – and one Truck Series event with Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2011.
Raikkonen revealed that after retiring from Formula One, he didn’t immediately consider any racing “in a really serious way,” but that conversations with Trackside Racing progressed, leading to the Watkins Glen participation.
“We had more talks about it, how would it work, where the race would be, and all sorts of other things,” Raikkonen said. “There’s a lot of things involved, and it all made sense for me.
“It’s one race, so it made sense for all of us as a family. I always enjoyed it when I had my few races [in the United States].
“Hopefully we have a good race and good fun. Obviously it’s a new car and I’ve never been at the track. But I’m sure we can figure it out.”
Raikkonen’s participation with Trackhouse Racing is apart of the squad’s Project91 strategy, which aims to broaden NASCAR’s appeal by giving the #91 vehicle to global racers. Trackhouse will have 3 racers for the race at Watkins Glen, including Chastain and Suarez, from 3 different countries around the world.
“I’ve been a big fan of Kimi’s for a long time, I’ve followed his career since he started in Formula 1 with Sauber,” said Trackhouse owner Justin Marks.
“One of the cool moments of my career being a Formula 1 fan was being able to race against Kimi in Charlotte in 2011.
“I knew he had an interest in NASCAR, and that he’d done it before, and thought that if I explained to him what this project was all about, he’d be interested in being a part of it.”
Raikkonen’s goal is to travel to the United States with only enough time well before event to perform a session in the Chevrolet car as well as a simulator drive with the squad.
Marks paid Raikkonen a trip at his home in Switzerland to discuss the agreement, and the Finn says Marks “sold the whole thing brilliantly.”
Although there were options to comeback to motorsport sooner this year, Raikkonen stated he decided to allow himself sufficient time to get ready for the Watkins Glen Cup race.
“There were obviously options to do more this year, but I think it all came a bit too quickly, to try to do it as well as we can on all the sides,” Raikkonen said. “I think it was better to wait until this race, so we can prepare for everything and at least have done the work 100% right and what the outcome is, nobody knows. We’ll at least give ourselves the best chance that we can.
“What comes after that? I don’t know, nobody knows. We’ll try to do a good race there and enjoy it, and see what the future brings. I have no other plans.
“That’s what I have right now, and we’ll go from there.”
Raikkonen has already tested a Cup car on a road track, doing so in a Dodge for Robby Gordon Motorsports at Virginia International Raceway in 2011, but the test was cut short after he slid off and ripped up the nose on wet grass.
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