Raikkonen on NASCAR Cup debut: "What do I have to lose?"

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Raikkonen on NASCAR Cup debut: "What do I have to lose?"

NASCAR

Raikkonen on NASCAR Cup debut: "What do I have to lose?"

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Kimi Raikkonen says there are “absolutely no plans” for any additional NASCAR races after he makes his Cup Series debut this weekend at Watkins Glen.

Raikkonen has previously run NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series races, but Sunday afternoon will be the first time he’s done so at the premier level and in NASCAR’s newest car.

“Obviously, I want to have fun but also try to do as well as we can,” Raikkonen said on Saturday morning.

The 2007 Formula 1 world champion – who retired after the 2021 season – is the first driver for PROJECT91, an additional Trackhouse Racing car for elite international drivers, and team co-owner Justin Marks flew to Raikkonen’s home in Switzerland to pitch him the idea.

Preparation has been vital and did not lack detail. Marks and Trackhouse Racing gave Raikkonen a preparation playbook to cover things from getting himself ready to race, how the 90-lap race will unfold and even NASCAR race procedures. Raikkonen also worked on the Chevrolet simulator and tested at Virginia International Raceway.

“I think we’ve prepared as well as we could for the limited amount of anything, obviously with how the rules are,” Raikkonen said.

In a short amount of time, Raikkonen has recognized the differences between the F1 world and NASCAR. Raikkonen is staying in the motorhome lot with his family and said the vibe is very relaxed and has more of a family atmosphere than F1.

“So far, it’s been great,” he said.

Raikkonen is looking forward to the challenge that comes with his debut and also the excitement of racing against new competitors. He understands he will have limited track time between practice and qualifying and, in giving credit to the professionals of the sport, knows it’ll be hard to stack up well against them.

“I don’t see any risk. Why not?” Raikkonen said of doing something new. “What do I have to lose? That I‘ve done bad in a NASCAR race or bad in any race?

“I don’t care. I do it for myself. Good or bad result, it could happen even if I did 20 races. They all could be bad for many different races.

“I don’t see anything negative. I think it’s great. But what Justin and the team is doing to give a chance to those from Europe … I’m sure there’s a lot of drivers that would like to have a chance and try, but it’s not very easy. So maybe it opens some doors that in future there’s more chance to try to get more Europeans.”

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