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Raikkonen finds Nationwide tough going

Unfortunately Kimi then got a speeding penalty after his first green flag pit stop on lap 142, which meant a drive-thru that would drop him off the lead lap.

Shortly afterwards, Raikkonen managed to run over some debris on the track (the front splitter of Jeremy Clements' car, which had just fallen off the #51) that lodged under the front of his own car and required him to come in under green for the pit crew to wrench it out. That put him even further behind and damaged the front splitter of his own car, which meant that the car's handling and speed was even further compromised - but at least the pit crew got the full water bottle to him this time.

By the end of the night, Raikkonen had also scrapped half the paint off the right hand side of the #87 by getting too close to the outside wall on a number of occasions. By the final laps he was clearly not trying too hard, just circulating and trying to stay out of the way, encouraged by the pit crew to simply bring it home.

"I was just driving around to finish the race ... just trying to survive through the corners, and it's not so much fun," he admitted afterwards.

"At the beginning I thought we had a good car ... I could overtake on the restarts, and it felt really good when it turned. But it turned out to be really bad, the handling. It felt I had to stop in the corner, just pushing all the time," he said. "Over halfway the car was tight, and I hit the wall three times. Then it just didn't work at all."

"The front-running guys [Kyle, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick] are saying the exact same thing," his crew chief Rick Ren agreed. "These things just do not handle very well."

Had the whole gruelling experience put him off NASCAR for a good while to some? While it might not have been a dream start in Nationwide, most observers felt that actually he'd gone pretty well for someone who hadn't even seen the inside of one of these cars until the previous day's practice. He'd made it to the end, and 27th place was still two in front of his car owner Joe Nemechek who finished in 29th place after engine problems. (Full results are available here.)

"Kimi did a great job," said Rick Ren. "I call it a success. The results don't really show how good he really did. If you look at the finishing order, guys in 10th-12th - we ran ahead of them a good lick of the day. I think it was all positive. No negatives out of it ... There was no doubt he was a top 15 guy again."

As ever, Kimi was non-committal about his NASCAR plans. "Now I'll go back to Europe, and do a few rallies, and see what happens," he said. "I don't know when I will be back. I have a rally in Greece and some other rallies."

"It's up to him to decide if he wants to come do this again," said Rick Ren, who is also general manager for Kyle Busch Motorsports. "Hopefully, we did our part, and it was a pleasant experience for him." However, he added it was unlikely that KBM could or would be involved in putting together a Sprint Cup outing for Raikkonen at Sonoma, if that should be Kimi's next step.




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]
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
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 Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with Ryan Pemberton after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, loses control of his car during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via 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)
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)
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)

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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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