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Raikkonen 15th in debut: Nationwide next?

Kimi Raikkonen finished 15th in his NASCAR series début in the Camping World Truck Series, despite a couple of hits against the wall and a pit miscommunication that ended up being a stroke of luck.
Kimi Raikkonen completed his NASCAR début, and if a 15th place isn't exactly going to set the world on fire then it's certainly a solid start to his Stateside motor racing experience. It's very much in line with the sort of experience of those who have tried to make the shift from F1 to US stock car racing in the past.

Raikkonen had qualified in 31st position at Charlotte Motor Speedway after struggling to get the handling where he wanted it, a loose truck seeing him power slide and scrape the wall during the earlier practice sessions on Friday.

Those problems persisted into the Friday night race itself, and early on Raikkonen brushed the wall out of turn 3 which served as a wake-up call for the Finn - although contact was light by NASCAR standards, it was the sort of hit that would have instantly wiped an F1 car out of a race at a circuit like Monaco, for example.

In a race that saw ten cautions - many of them involving some of the more senior and experienced drivers in NASCAR - Raikkonen was frustrated by the stop-start nature of proceedings.

A miscommunication with the pits at the start of the second caution saw Raikkonen fail to come down pit road when expected, and the team had to resort to Plan B of keeping him out on track and going off-sync. That left him facing a costly green flag pit stop on lap 51.

Fortunately Raikkonen's team owner Kyle Busch came to his aid, albeit unwittingly, when the #18 spun to bring out the fourth caution which allowed Raikkonen to pit and get back on to the same strategy as everyone else.

Conspiracy theorists who suggest that Kyle made the spin deliberately for his team mate forget just how highly competitive he is: Busch clearly had his eyes set on the race win and in particular on beating the #2 truck out front driven by Clint Bowyer (who by coincidence is starting alongside Busch on the front row of Saturday night's All-Star event) and wasn't about to do anything to endanger his own chances if he could avoid it. Sure enough, Kyle put himself in a position to overtake Bowyer on lap 128 and keep hold of it till the chequered flag to record his 28th Truck victory in 91 starts.

That fortuitous pit stop put Raikkonen back out in 14th and he continued to circulate for the rest of the race in about that position, surviving a second (and harder) skirmish with the wall which he really feared might have done for the truck but good this time; and a close call in the final laps when a truck spun right in front of him, which he managed to avoid hitting.

All in all it was a better outcome than Raikkonen had been expecting, given what he felt had been a disappointing performance in practice and qualifying earlier in the day. "I wanted to see how it is, how it feels. If I suck, there's no reason to come back," Raikkonen had earlier told his first full NASCAR press conference, adding: "We'll see how it goes."




Related Pictures

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Kimi Raikkonen finished 15th in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway [Picture credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, poses in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Gray Gaulding, driver of the #20 Gemini Southern / Krispy Kreme Chevrolet, is involved in an on track incident with Brandon Jones, driver of the #33 EXIDE Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 Toyota No. 1 For Everyone Sales Event Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, races Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton ready for racing at Daytona International Speedway on 14 January 2014. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton in action at Daytona International Speedway on 14 January 2014. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS races to a third-place finish Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS won the race and Jimmie Johnson driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished second. (Photo by HHP/Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS gets the chequered flag as he crosses the finish line Sunday, March 30, 2014, winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Chevrolet finished first, second and third in the race. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS (left) battles Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Busch won the race. Johnson finished second.  (Photo by HHP/Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS celebrates Sunday, March 30, 2014 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Chevrolet finished first, second and third in the race. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, applies the winner sticker in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with his girlfriend Patricia Driscoll after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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Juice - Unregistered

May 21, 2011 3:16 PM

Even though I'm not really a NASCAR fan, I decided to watch it. The hick commentators kept praising him which was a good thing. Piquet Jr had a great run also, he was at one point in 2nd place. It was also good seeing JPM talking with him.

dellortodiagonale

May 21, 2011 11:11 AM

It's difficult to act as a WRC or a NASCAR driver. It takes skill, will power, humbleness and above all time, even if you have been a good F1 driver. I don't expect any short term wins neither in rallies nor on the ovals. But will Raikkonen have persistance and baking?



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