Raikkonen “excited” to return to NASCAR Cup racing at COTA

Kimi Raikkonen says he’s “excited” to return to NASCAR Cup competition this weekend at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, where he will race against fellow Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button.

Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro

This will be Raikkonen's first start at COTA since finishing 13th for Alfa Romeo in the 2021 United States Grand Prix. It was also the scene of the 2007 world champion's final F1 win for Ferrari in 2018.

He will race the No. 91 Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Trackhouse Racing’s part-time crew led by 23-race winning crew chief Darian Grubb, who won a Cup Series title with Tony Stewart in 2011.

“Obviously, it’s helpful that I know the track,” said Raikkonen. “Now, the F1 car and a NASCAR Cup car are slightly different in how they feel when you go around it.

“I need to remember there’s a lot less downforce when I go around the first time coming out of the pits.”

Raikkonen will make his second Cup start for Trackhouse Racing’s Project91 program, following his debut at Watkins Glen last year. He ran in eighth position briefly during a pitstop cycle in a weather-affected race, before later crashing out and injuring his wrist.

“Last year was a great experience,” said Raikkonen. “Unfortunately, the result wasn’t what we were looking for because we got caught up in a wreck, but that’s part of racing.

“I am excited to have another go, and hopefully we will stay out of any big issues. This will be tricky for sure, but the further we go in the weekend the easier it gets.

“At least I have an idea of how we can approach the weekend. I think we did a good job last year. Is the car going to give us a better result? I don’t know, I hope so.”

Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro, Ty Dillon, Petty GMS Motorsports, Allegiant Chevrolet Camaro

Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro, Ty Dillon, Petty GMS Motorsports, Allegiant Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

Team boss Justin Marks added: “We had a great event last year and left Watkins Glen wanting a little bit more, so I am glad we could put this weekend together.

“Kimi is a world class talent and it’s been a pleasure to have him join our team. He’s been everything we could hope for, and I think we have showed him how competitive, professional and fun NASCAR racing really is these days.”

Trackhouse’s Ross Chastain scored his maiden Cup career victory at COTA last year, when he passed two cars in the final corners, while team-mate Daniel Suarez dominated the early going before a power steering failure ended his victory bid.

“Kimi was a lot of fun last year when he raced with us in Watkins Glen,” said Suarez. “You can certainly see his talent. He picked up NASCAR racing so quickly.

“It's going to be interesting to see how he does this year on a track where he has won in Formula 1. I think he will be very quick.”

Raikkonen will be joined on the grid by Button, who is driving a Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing.

They will have a little bit of added time to get acclimated, as the Cup Series features an extra practice session for 50 minutes this Friday, before qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.


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