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Keep working at it, Montoya tells Raikkonen

Just days before Kimi Raikkonen makes his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, Juan Montoya offers some words of advice.
The news of Kimi Raikkonen's try-out in NASCAR in the Camping World Truck Series first broke almost two months ago: and even after all this time, it still sounds like a bit of a huge April Fool's Day joke.

But on Friday, May 20 it becomes a reality as 2007 F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen heads out onto Charlotte Motor Speedway to make his NASCAR series debut with the Kyle Busch Motorsports team.

The one current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver who has any idea of what's in store for Raikkonen is the driver who made a similar transition from the glamorous world of F1 to the more down-to-earth scene of American stock car racing - his former McLaren team mate Juan Pablo Montoya.

So what advice can the Colombian offer the new arrival from Finland?

"Keep working at it and listen to the advice people give you," says Montoya. "Ask questions and spend as much time behind the wheel, getting seat time, as you can."

Montoya knows what he's talking about: NASCAR hasn't come easy for him since he arrived in the series in 2007 after becoming disenchanted with the world of F1. He won the Sonoma road race in his rookie year and has since had three top-five and six top-10 finishes, and even become the first non-American to make it into the Chase at the end of the 2009 regular season. But oval victories and a Sprint Cup title still seem very far off for him.

"It'll be a tough transition but if he dedicates his time to [NASCAR], he should be okay," said Montoya. "He'll adjust after some time ... It's a big transition all around and just one of those things he'll need to get used to.

"He's a great race car driver but he'll need to learn to take care of his equipment in NASCAR. I know he likes to drive his cars hard and you can't do that over here."

Despite the fact that Montoya and Raikkonen entered F1 in the same year - 2001 - they came from very different backgrounds even then. Montoya had battled his way up through the US racing scene and won the Indy 500 race and the CART series title before moving to F1 as a very proven winner; Raikkonen on the other hand emerged out of nowhere, a karting star with unproven senior formula experience who needed special dispensation from the FIA to get a super-license to join Sauber. Within a year he had made a splash on the track and been snapped up by McLaren as "the next big thing", duly going on to win the world title with Ferrari in 2007 - something Montoya himself never did.

So what does Montoya think about Raikkonen's decision to try his hand at NASCAR Trucks?

"I think that it's cool that he's coming over to NASCAR. He's a cool guy and I think he will fit right in," he says, before offering a word of caution. "[But] my first choice wouldn't have been Charlotte [for a debut.] That's a tough track in general. I would've picked Talladega or Daytona before Charlotte."




Related Pictures

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Juan Pablo Montoya [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Juan Pablo Montoya [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Citroen DS3 WRC, ICE 1 Racing
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Citroen DS3 WRC, ICE 1 Racing
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Citroen DS3 WRC, ICE 1 Racing
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Taz - Unregistered

May 19, 2011 1:03 PM

@Dean Dean You miss the point with Kmini, thats why many fans liked him because he didn't give a toss about things such as F1 politics, been sponsor friendly but driving fast and partying, more an old school driver.....but that's no bad thing. Most F1 press conferences are pointless now, it's just pre-scripted PR waffle, at least in MotoGP you get a bit of bander, F1 is supposed to entertain us....not bore us.



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