Ever since his successful début in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last week, Kimi Raikkonen has been teasing everyone with a "will he, won't he" try Nationwide this weekend. Finally, on Thursday morning, the time for a definite answer came.
In truth there wasn't really much doubt at this point, and in a six minute press appearance Kimi appeared, decked out in his black Perky Jerky T-shirt and shorts and his backwards-facing Red Bull baseball cap, to confirm exactly what everyone was expecting
"The Nationwide: we are here, so what's the most easiest thing to get more experience?" he said. "It was the easiest thing for me to do."
Nationwide will be a totally new deal for Kimi. As in, totally
new. He's never tried running in one, even under test conditions, compared to the three test days he'd had in a NASCAR Truck prior to taking to the track for the first practice sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday afternoon.
The 80 minute sessions went well for the Finn, with the #87 finishing practice 1 in 16th position, and following that up with 18th in the later session. (See full practice times and positions here
Raikkonen's run attracted the attention of Sprint Cup championship leader Carl Edwards: ""Who is that in the 87? ... He is loose," Edwards said. "He was driving the wheels off it. I was just surprised. I didn't know who was in that car. Had no clue. Then I saw Perky Jerky on it. He definitely has some car control for sure. That's not lip service."
Raikkonen's hoping that at least having had a basic introduction to how a NASCAR meet goes, together with some knowledge of the track - Charlotte being the venue for both last week's Truck race and this week's Nationwide event - will compensate.
"At least I know the circuit and how the weekend goes," he said, sounding somewhat confident, adding that other drivers had told him that there was "not an awful difference" between Trucks and Nationwide cars.
That would probably make the 2010 Nationwide Series champion champion choke if he'd been in the room to hear it.
"Charlotte's probably the last place I'd pick to make my Nationwide début," said Brad Keselowski, saying that he thought the Finn should run a dozen or more Truck races before even considering the move up. "It sounds cheesy, but the number one thing is to make sure you run all the laps ... There's no substitute for track time."