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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]
Denny Hamlin and Darian Grubb, the crew chief of the #11 Joe Gibb Racing Toyota, consult in the garage area during testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, does a burnout after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart presents Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, with the trophy after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, wins the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, drive driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinios.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, wins the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Cars race after a restart lead by Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet (L), Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet (R) during the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via 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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