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NASCAR NEWS 

Raikkonen set for 'tough' Truck debut

Narain KarthikeyanNarain Karthikeyan says Kimi Raikkonen will face a "tough" debut in stock car racing when he joins the NASCAR Truck Series at Charlotte this weekend, but is convinced the former Formula 1 world champion will enjoy himself in American racing.

Hispania F1 driver Karthikeyan contested nine NASCAR Truck races last year before deciding to return to single-seaters. From his experience, Karthikeyan believes Raikkonen's ambition should be to qualify near the leaders and stay clear of trouble in the race.

"It's going to be tough at the start for sure," Karthikeyan told AUTOSPORT. "At Charlotte it's wide open and it's going to be tough for him, but he's a talented individual so I'm sure he will pick it up quickly, but the first race is always going to be tough.

"I'm presuming that he will qualify quite well because he's done some testing and I think if he's in the top 15 he's done really well for himself in qualifying. But the racing will be a completely different story because they bump you off and everything.

"The first race I did, I qualified 11th. And after the first lap I was 34th or something like that. They just move you out of the way and then you need to get aggressive and take control."

Karthikeyan does not think Raikkonen's pedigree as an F1 world champion will make the other Truck racers treat him any differently.

"Obviously Kimi has a bit more exposure because of what he's achieved in the past, but they don't care really and they'll just race you like anyone," said the Indian. "If you're a rookie they'll try to intimidate you so you respect them, but then some drivers are very fair as well."

He added: "If he's on the lead lap, that will be an amazing result for Kimi. He shouldn't get wrecked - that's the biggest thing. If he qualifies in the midfield, then the first few laps they'll try to push you off or something like that."

Karthikeyan is also sure that the paddock atmosphere in NASCAR will be to Raikkonen's liking.

"It's so relaxed and it's a lot of fun. He will enjoy it for sure, I think," he said.

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