Kimi Raikkonen eyes victory as NASCAR outing a 'great opportunity'

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Kimi Raikkonen is setting his sights on victory ahead of his NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend at Watkins Glen.

The 2007 Formula 1 world champion is competing in his first race since retiring from F1 at the end of last season, teaming up with TrackHouse Racing in their 'Project91' car aimed at encouraging international drivers to try the American racing series.

Commenting on how his one-off appearance came about, Raikkonen praised the vision of team co-owner Justin Marks.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for drivers from Europe because it’s not very easy to come from Europe to the U.S. to race," the Finn said.

“People can get challenges and maybe they can come here and have a long future because it is a good sport. I think it is great what Justin is doing.

“He came as a very honest and straightforward guy and nobody has promised any big thing."

That being said, Raikkonen naturally wants to fight at the front, and thinks NASCAR's new-generation cars make that possible.

“The only thing we can do is do our best and hope we get a good result. You never know, any category or any racing you choose, you just never know what will happen," he added.

"I trusted what he [Marks] was saying and they’ve been doing pretty well. In NASCAR, it can easily happen.

“I think any time there’s an equal chance to win in a series it is nice.

“I think it’s good, and what I heard when I talked to people about the new car is that it is pretty even with everybody, it’s still a learning phase for all teams with the new car.”

Ahead of the race at the Glen on Sunday, Raikkonen hit the track for a test last week in Virginia.

And though he drove previously in the NASCAR Truck series, the 'Iceman' admits it is a very different challenge.

“Obviously, I have a little experience with the Cup car from 2011,” he explained.

"This car is a new generation car, it’s a lot nicer. I guess more or less what I expected. I tried the simulator so I had some idea – it’s OK. Obviously, the same things happen to it as a normal car, so when the tyres get hot you’re sliding more.

“So far it’s been good. Maybe we did 50 laps or something,” he added after the test.

“Without those and the simulator, for sure I’d be going straight into 20 minutes practice, and then qualifying, and that would be much harder.

“At least we prepared as well as we could, so thanks to NASCAR letting us have those laps, we did the best that we could and most that we can, so we’ll see what we get.

"Obviously, it’s a new track for me, so I need to learn it, so we’ll see what we have.”