Former Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen is set to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut on August 21 at Watkins Glen International, and the 42-year-old Finnish driver is taking the opportunity with Trackhouse Racing seriously.
On Thursday, Trackhouse driver Daniel Suarez helped Raikkonen prepare for the Go Bowling at the Glen in a practice session at Virginia International Raceway, where Suarez was eager to learn a well as teach.
Trackhouse is providing all the data and equipment Raikkonen needs to run well at the Glen. Suarez feels the main impediments to the Finn’s success will be the nuances of racing unfamiliar heavy, full-bodied stock cars.
“They’ve given him every tool he needs to succeed,” Suarez said on Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can from him, because already he’s an amazing race car driver. But I believe that a race car driver is great not just because he’s good at driving. I think it’s everything else around it–how he thinks, how open- or closed-minded he or she is.
“In this case, I’ve been very, very impressed with him. He’s having a great time. He’s not here just to have fun, but he’s a competitive guy, and he wants to do well. So it’s been it’s been a lot of fun to work with him in the last few days, and (I’m) really looking forward to seeing what he can do next week.”
Driving Kyle Busch Motorsports equipment, Raikkonen competed at Charlotte in one race each in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series on back-to-back weekends in May 2011. He finished 15th in the Truck Series race and 27th in the Xfinity event.
On a side note, Suarez said reports of a signed contract extension with Trackhouse are premature, but he’s confident a deal is near.
“I know my manager and people from Trackhouse are very, very close,” Suarez said. “We have never had doubts about where we’re at on those kind of things. We’re just working on a couple of details.
“But yeah, it’s not done yet, but it’s close. I think it’s just matter of time. Overall, I think we’re in very good shape.”