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Raikkonen to make Nationwide debut, still debating F1

Kimi Raikkonen has bucked his recent trend of persistent denials by conceding that perhaps F1 isn't a closed book for him after all - as he prepares to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut with NEMCO Motorsports
Kimi Raikkonen will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series bow in this coming weekend's Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it has been confirmed – as the former F1 World Champion has again evoked the notion of an eventual return to the grand prix grid.

After finishing a respectable 15th from 31st on his Camping World Truck Series debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports in last Friday night's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 around the same 1.5-mile Charlotte oval – a race won by team-mate Kyle Busch, and in which Raikkonen twice swiped the wall and endured a pit miscommunication – the Finn had been elusively non-committal about the likelihood of him graduating to Nationwide competition just a week later, conceding only that 'we'll see'.

The publication of the Top Gear 300 entry list, however, has blown the 18-time grand prix-winner's cover, naming him as the driver of the #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota owned by Joe Nemechek, who has done a deal with Busch, whose own team is not in possession of a Nationwide licence. As to what the future holds beyond that, however, the 'Ice Man' is characteristically vague, save to admit that competing in some Sprint Cup races – NASCAR's uppermost tier – 'would be nice'.

“I don't have big plans,” he is quoted as having said by The Associated Press. “I don't have any plans for next year or anything of what I do. I'll see how it is, because I didn't have any expectations when I came here. It's a bit like when I went to rallying – I didn't have much expectation, I wanted to see how it is.

“It's the same story here. For sure, it's a different sport, a different type of racing than what we have in Europe. It's very popular here and maybe it looks easy, but it's not so easy to be fast. I'll try to do my best and we'll see how it goes and what the future will bring. There's not an awful lot of planning to be done, and I really don't want to hurry the situation. We go step-by-step and see what happens.

“If I completely suck here, there's probably no reason to come back. I mean, I don't know yet. Like I said, we go day-by-day and see how it goes, and what comes in the future, comes. Like I said, at the moment, I have no plans for next year, so it's too early to think about it.”

Erstwhile McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Juan-Pablo Montoya has opined that in order to truly succeed across the Pond, Raikkonen needs to relocate there lock, stock and barrel, but that would engender a long-term NASCAR commitment – and judging by his recent admissions, it would seem that despite persistent denials, the 31-year-old is still not entirely convinced that he has fully turned his back on an F1 career that began back in 2001.

“Currently, I don't miss F1,” he is quoted as saying by The Examiner, having walked away from the top flight when he was prematurely released by Ferrari at the end of 2009. “I wanted to do different things and now have had a great opportunity to try NASCAR. I haven't said I will never go back to F1.”



Related Pictures

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Kimi Raikkonen`s primary sponsor for his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, food manufacturer Perky Jerky, unveils the livery that will be on his vehicle for his debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday May 20. [Picture credit: Perky Jerky PR]
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]
Kimi Raikkonen, driver of the #15 Perky Jerky Toyota, stands with Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20 in Charlotte, N.C. [Picture credit: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kimi Raikkonen, driver of the #15 Perky Jerky Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20 in Charlotte, N.C. [Picture credit: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images for NASCAR]
Paul Menard, driver of the #33 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet, celebrates after taking first in the Xfinity Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville on at Road America on August 29, 2015 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #33 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America on August 29, 2015 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, leads a pack of cars during the Xfinity Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville on at Road America on August 29, 2015 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #33 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after taking first in the Xfinity Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville on at Road America on August 29, 2015 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #33 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag at the end of the Xfinity Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville on at Road America on August 29, 2015 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, leads the field in a restart during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America on August 29, 2015 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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NutBallRacer

May 24, 2011 2:08 PM

Its nice to be able to "try stuff". I wonder what it costs him. Does he buy his seats, or is his reputation still fresh enough to get him entre to the things he's trying. I still wonder about his value and committment required to provide that value to his sponsors/car owners. Actually, I admire his sporting spirit, and wish him well. I think he should stay away from F1 until they make an interesting formula, though.

JT2 - Unregistered

May 24, 2011 5:25 PM

His words are being twisted. He said he has no plans for next year. (same as this time last year)He said he did not miss F1 but when asked if he would go back he said never say never (he aid same this time last year. I would imagine it would all depend on what is offered to him but top seat in F1 after being away 2 yrs - doubt it.



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