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Raikkonen finds Nationwide tough going

The Iceman struggled to keep his cool in the car in his Nationwide series début at the Top Gear 300, faced with rising temperatures, lack of water, car damage and a speeding penalty.
Kimi Raikkonen might be known as the Iceman, but his cool evaporated pretty early on during the Saturday Top Gear 300, his introduction to the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The Finn seemed to particularly struggle with the heat and humidity of the afternoon heat in Charlotte, asking repeatedly for additional water bottles to be handed to him at pit stops and at one point sounding almost on the verge of panic when a full bottle didn't materialise before he had to leave his pit box.

"I need my drinking bottle," he radioed at one stop, then realised he had to crank up the demands to get some attention from the pit crew busy carrying out their pre-drilled roles. Soon after returning to the track, he was back on the radio: "I'm out of the drink again. I don't know. It's so small. I'm out again. [You have] to make sure it's completely full, because it is too small."

It didn't help when a fumble at the pit stop meant Raikkonen got back a mostly-empty water bottle instead of a refilled one during the stop under yellow on lap 74.

The situation wasn't improved by the heat pouring through the floor of the #87, a typical 'feature' of Nationwide cars. Raikkonen's boots were from his F1 and WRC days, after Kimi had opted not to fit the heavy duty heat shields that experienced NASCAR drivers know to put in as he hadn't found the heat an issue during last week's Truck Series race.

He radioed his crew to say that his feet were "burning" and at one point suggested in frustration that "maybe I put my foot out the window" to cool it down. Finally he settled on "[I'll] just try to keep my foot off the floor and hold them up."

Not that you'd have heard many of his comments about the heat or the water situation on the telecast, since his language was - let's just say, free-flowing. "My leg are burning inside the cockpit because it's so f***ing hot!" was an early sample.

And the F-word was much in evidence when describing how his car was handling as the race wore on, saying that he was having real trouble turning it through the corner. "You have to make the car better. It's unbelievable how bad it is," he said - rather missing the point that in NASCAR, the pit crew needs accurate feedback and instructions from the driver to know how to proceed, unlike the telemetry-driven world of F1 where the engineers have an answer for the driver before he ever gets back into the pits.

For all the complaints and issues - which were pretty standard NASCAR fare really, as anyone who has ever listened to Kyle Busch rampage about his car during a race on his way to another win will know - Raikkonen was actually doing rather well, circulating in a stable 15-20th position on the lead lap




Related Pictures

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Former Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen talks with car owner and fellow driver Joe Nemechek during practice as Raikkonen prepares to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Raikkonen`s fastest lap in the No. 87 was his 19th lap with a time of 31.241 seconds. [Picture credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]
The Roush Fenway Racing trio of Matt Kenseth in the #16, Carl Edwards in the #60 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #6 all sported similar paint schemes and finished first, second and fourth respectively in the Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. [Picture credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]
Kimi Raikkonen was impressive in in the #87 in his NASCAR Nationwide Series début, running on the lead lap until a pit road speeding penalty and debris causing damage to his front splitter. Raikkonen finished 27th, four laps down. [Picture credit: NASCAR]
Kimi Raikkonen waits on the grid before qualifying the #87 Perky Jerky Toyota. Raikkonen made his NASCAR Nationwide Series début in the Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway [Picture credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
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Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Cheez-It Ford, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Marybeth - Unregistered

May 29, 2011 7:27 PM

After the race, ALL of announcers unamiously said that if Kimi wants it, he has a career in Nascar. They specifically pointed to his car handling ability, how quickly he adapts to the car, the track & the drivers around him, & his car control. That he got in there and mixed it up with other drivers, managed to hang on to the car & survived. :)

Dice - Unregistered

May 29, 2011 9:12 PM

At 100 laps in, he was on the same lap as the leaders & running in 13th-16th, & those are the same guys running up front in Cup. Only after hitting the debris on track did he start to slide down. I can't wait to see him in a cup car! Is there a driver signed for the #4 Red Bull car when Kasey goes to Hendrick?



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