F1 world champion Raikkonen to contest NASCAR Cup race at COTA

Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to NASCAR Cup Series competition at Circuit of the Americas as Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 driver.

Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Princess Cruises Chevrolet Camaro, Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro

In announcing Project 91 last year, Trackhouse co-owner Justin Marks said its intentions were to field “world class” drivers from other racing disciplines to compete in the highest level of NASCAR.

The 2007 F1 champion was the programme’s first driver, debuting last year at the 21 August Cup race at Watkins Glen International.

The Finn ran as high as eighth during a round of pit stops until he crashed out late following a late-race restart, injuring his wrist after a collision sent his car in a tire barrier.

“I had a fantastic time in NASCAR,” said Raikkonen. “There was a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, but everyone was very helpful, the competition was a big challenge.

“This time I get to race on a track I am familiar with so there won’t be as steep of a learning curve. I want to have fun, but also do as well as we can.”

Unlike the Watkins Glen track, Raikkonen is familiar with COTA, racing on the road course eight times during his Formula 1 career.

The last of Raikkonen’s 21 F1 victories came at COTA in 2018 with Ferrari.

Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro

Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Raikkonen will race the #91 Onx/iLOQ Chevrolet Camaro at COTA fielded by a Trackhouse crew led by 23-time wining crew chief Darian Grubb, who won a Cup Series title with Tony Stewart in 2011.

“When we announced Kimi last year I said he was the global superstar I had in mind when we created Project 91. I think you saw the fan reception across the world and Kimi’s performance in the car was proof of the concept,” Marks said.

“Kimi’s following is massive and it’s great for NASCAR, Trackhouse plus I think Kimi really enjoys our racing.”

Marks said Raikkonen will again visit the shop in the days before the Austin, Texas event, but no test sessions are planned before the COTA race.

“I’m sure there are a lot of drivers that would like to have a chance to try NASCAR,” said Raikkonen.

“It’s not very easy, so maybe it will open some doors in the future for more chances to try and get more Europeans into the sport.”

The Finn retired from F1 in 2021 after competing with the Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus teams since he started in 2001. His highlight came in 2007 when he won the title with Ferrari.

He also competed in the Xfinity and Truck Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2011.

Trackhouse already fields two full-time Cup Series teams with drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

Marks said that NASCAR’s increased schedule of road course races allows him to offer drives to high-profile European stars, as their transition to the Next Gen car – which debuted last season – wouldn’t be as difficult preparing for an oval event.


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