Raikkonen "will haul ass" on NASCAR debut at Watkins Glen - Marks

Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks says he has “high expectations” for 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen’s debut in the NASCAR Cup Series next weekend.

Raikkonen "will haul ass" on NASCAR debut at Watkins Glen - Marks

The 42-year-old Finn will drive for Trackhouse on the Watkins Glen International road course with his appearance part of the team’s Project 91 initiative, which is looking to expand NASCAR’s reach by introducing talented international racing drivers to the Cup Series.

The race at The Glen aboard a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on 21 August will mark Raikkonen’s first outing in a motorsport event since the 2021 F1 finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

To prepare for next weekend’s race, Raikkonen has done simulator work, driven in iRacing events, participated in pitstop practice and on Thursday took part in his “Select Driver Orientation Test” at Virginia International Raceway in a Next Gen car.

“I think that the speed and the race craft and the adaptation to the car are not going to be an issue at all,” said Marks. “The way he was prepared when he first showed up in America – not just the last 24 hours – he was asking about the No. 1 car’s pit penalty at Michigan, he had questions about short-pitting stages and how to work strategy backwards on road courses.

“He has really done a lot of work and preparation and that’s not surprising to me. That’s what it takes to be as successful as he’s been in Formula 1 for so long.”

Insight: How Trackhouse and Suarez played the mavericks of NASCAR

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

Photo by: Project91

Raikkonen entered one second-tier Xfinity Series race and one Truck Series race in 2011 with Kyle Busch Motorsports during his sabbatical from F1.

He has also tested a Cup car at VIR before, driving a Dodge for Robby Gordon Motorsports in 2011, but the test ended early when he went off. Marks is convinced, though, he will be up to speed by next weekend.

“From a speed and a preparation and knowledge standpoint, I think he’s going to be right on par,” he said. “Where the challenge will be is making sure that he understands the race from a procedural standpoint, that he understands the rules.

“We’ve prepared a document for him that shows point-of-view imagery of where pit entrance is and where the pit light is, where the (timing) lines are and all that kind of stuff. That’s where he’s got the steepest learning curve is not driving through too many pit boxes, not pitting too early, not pulling out of line before the start/finish line at the start, not speeding on pit road.

“A penalty can take a whole day away from you. That’s where the heavy lift will be and that’s where we’re focusing a lot of our attention. From the way he showed up ready to be fitted in the car, I have high expectations.

“I think he’s going to haul ass.”

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