NASCAR is getting international this weekend at Watkins Glen International, where Formula 1 star Kimi Raikkonen will make his Cup Series debut.
Raikkonen – the 42-year-old Finnish driver who won 21 races, won the F1 world championship in 2007 and raced in F1 from 2001 to 2021, minus two years from the 2010-11 season – will start the cup for the first time in upstate New York, piloting the #91 Chevrolet Trackhouse Racing. He is part of Trackhouse’s PROJECT91 aiming to bring international stardom to the cup series and there is no doubt he will be the spotlight all weekend long.
More from Trackhouse co-owner Justin Marks:
“I’m really excited to start this year with Kimi Raikkonen” Marks told NASCAR.com. “Of course, the 2007 F1 world champion and the most experienced F1 driver in history will really help get this program off the ground. Can’t wait. I am optimistic that we can follow the world’s motorsport stars and do something really special under the Trackhouse brand with PROJECT91.”
Alongside Raikkonen, Trackhouse will field three cars at Watkins Glen, alongside full-time Cup racers Daniel Suárez in the No. 99 Chevrolet and Ross Chastain in the No. 1 Chevrolet.
Prior to racing for Watkins, Glen Raikkonen, nicknamed “The Iceman”, also made one start each in the second Xfinity Series and the third Category Truck Series, both in 2011 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
But NASCAR’s top-tier racing is undoubtedly a different beast, even if Raikkonen has a personal advantage in his rookie road course learning curve. As he prepares for his first Cup race, here’s a look at some of his best prep moments.
A few thoughts from Kimi after yesterday’s test.
Plus a glance at exclusive equipment that will be available soon 👀 pic.twitter.com/nPTV3OKWvS
— PROJECT91 (@THProject91) August 12, 2022
He enjoyed a few laps in the car and simulator to prepare himself, and he explained why it’s so helpful:
“I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I think it was nice to do some laps, even if it’s not exactly the same car we’ll be racing. … Without it – I don’t know, maybe we did 50 laps today or something – so without that and the simulator, going to 20-minute practice and then qualifying would be a lot more difficult. So at least we prepared as well as we could, so thanks to NASCAR (for) letting us run those few laps today and we did the best we could and the most we could.”
“It was fun to be in the car today. And I haven’t driven a race car since the last F1 race so it was fun and hopefully we can get (a) a pretty good result in a cup race. “