Raikkonen gears up for Trucks debut

Kyle Busch and his team hope to have Kimi Raikkonen as best prepared as they can for his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Raikkonen gears up for Trucks debut

The 2007 Formula 1 world champion is set to start his NASCAR foray next weekend behind the wheel of the #15 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra at the mile-and-a-half track and against a field including some current and former Sprint Cup series regulars including Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, plus former F1 driverl Nelson Piquet Jr.

In contrast to Formula 1 and World Rally Championship events, Raikkonen will have all on-track activity restricted to a single day, as he will run two practice sessions on Friday morning, qualifying in the afternoon and then the 134-lap race at night.

Kyle Busch, who won last week's Truck series event at Dover driving for his own squad, says Raikkonen has been given in-car video footage of previous races at Charlotte in order to help him get as much information as they can before he hits the track on Friday.

"We sent him [Kimi Raikkonen] a few videos of the past couple years' Truck races in Charlotte and I believe we also sent him a couple in car cameras so he can kind of watch and get used to listening how throttle control was, how much you're on the gas, how to race people, sometimes what happens when you're side-by-side with guys," said Busch.

"I think I won last year the truck race there and the year before, [Ron] Hornaday [former series champion] and I were battling it out and we ended up spinning or something. He'll get a good view of what to expect with some in car camera stuff.

"... He'll go over to the NASCAR R&D Center and sit down there with those guys and kind of get an explanation of the driver's meeting -- he'll get the long version, the one that tells you all about double file [restarts], passing the pace car on the wave-around and all that kind of stuff. He'll get the long version of that just so he can get the idea of how that works.

"Other than that, that's pretty much it. As far as the truck goes, it's pretty simple," Busch added. "It's like anything else, any other trucks that we have. We had one in the stable and we've been working on it for two months now, probably ever since we've known really. Just fine tweaking on it and getting stuff ready along with my truck for Charlotte."

Doug Howe, who got a victory this year in the series winning the Daytona season-opener with NASCAR veteran Michael Waltrip, will be Raikkonen's crew chief this weekend. Raikkonen will get serviced in the pits by the crew usually working on Kyle Busch's truck during races.

Busch's crew chief Eric Phillips, who worked with Raikkonen in testing, said he is looking forward to the Finn's debut after being impressed with his instant speed when he got on track for the first time at Rockingham last month.

"We tested two days at Gresham and then on Thursday we went to Rockingham -- the big race track at Rockingham," said Phillips. "He did a tremendous job. It took him an hour or two at Gresham to get up to speed, but when we got to Rockingham, in four laps, he'd run faster than we'd been there testing with Brian [Ickler] or Tayler [Malsam] last year.

"Me and Rick [Ren, general manager] were really impressed. He did a great job and look forward to next weekend with him."

Raikkonen's first challenge, which shouldn't be a major one to overcome, will be qualifying for the event as there are 45 entries and only 36 trucks make the field for Friday's event. Raikkonen's truck is among those not guaranteed the start in the race.

Kyle Busch Motorsports, in its second year competing in the Truck series, currently leads the owner standings having won four out of the first six races, three of them with owner Busch behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota Tundra.

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