Kimi Raikkonen focused on "fun" in NASCAR Cup debut at Watkins Glen

Ex-Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen says he has nothing to lose making his first NASCAR Cup Series start at Watkins Glen this weekend and merely wants to have fun.

The 2007 world champion navigated through his first Cup Series practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday at Watkins Glen without any on-track incidents and will line up 27th for Sunday's race.

His fellow international Cup debutants, 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Mike Rockenfeller (Spire Chevrolet) and fellow ex-F1 racer Daniil Kvyat (Hezeberg Toyota), will start 33rd and 36th respectively.

While he was not in contention for pole on his first outing in a motorsport event since his final F1 outing in last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Raikkonen showed solid race pace and his biggest complaint was he would have liked more track time.

“I wish there had been more laps, it just felt like there is a lot of potential,” said the Finn, who is campaigning the #91 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.

“I’m not sure which line to take and just not enough laps to put everything together. But yeah, it was fun.

“Quite a lot of what I sort of expected after the simulator. Obviously, there’s always a difference but the fine data is never shown in the simulator.

“At least I knew the track, but I think, yeah, I needed to be a bit more better in a few places. Some places I thought I was pretty okay.

“But you know, it’s good. I didn’t expect anything and we are somewhat in the middle, so it’s okay.”

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

Photo by: Project91

Raikkonen's appearance in a Cup Series race is part of Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 initiative which is looking to expand NASCAR’s reach by introducing talented international racing drivers to the series.

To prepare for this weekend’s race, the 42-year-old brought his entire family to the United States for several weeks to immerse himself in the experience.

During that time he’s done simulator work, driven in iRacing events, participated in pitstop practice at the Trackhouse shop and recently took part in his “Select Driver Orientation Test” at Virginia International Raceway.

Asked why he would risk potential “failure” in moving to a different form of motorsports, Raikkonen dismissed the suggestion.

“I don’t see any risk. Why not?” he said.

“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 reasons.

“I don’t see anything negative, I think it’s great.

“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.”

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

Photo by: Project91

Raikkonen said his remaining focus in preparing for Sunday’s race was to become familiar with NASCAR rules.

“You know, not making any silly mistakes on that side, hopefully, and we’ll see what we can do with the car,” he said.

“We had a little bit of an idea from where we started and where we went and maybe somewhere halfway is better, and you know, we try to improve.

“I want to have fun, but also do as well as we can.”

shares
comments
NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen: Elliott takes pole, Raikkonen 27th
Previous article

NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen: Elliott takes pole, Raikkonen 27th

Next article

NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen: Larson beats Elliott to win, Raikkonen crashes out

NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen: Larson beats Elliott to win, Raikkonen crashes out
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Plus

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Plus

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Plus

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his team-mate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Plus

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of its Next Gen arrival Plus

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of its Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Plus

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson’s journey to the 2021 NASCAR Cup title comes straight from the Hollywood blockbuster scripts. While Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines for both the right and the wrong reasons

NASCAR
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR
Oct 5, 2021