Kimi Raikkonen not viewed as a race-winning contender in NASCAR Cup Series debut

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NASCAR - Kimi Raikkonen tests for Trackhouse/Project 91 ahead of his debut. August 2022. Credit: PA Images
NASCAR - Kimi Raikkonen tests for Trackhouse/Project 91 ahead of his debut. August 2022. Credit: PA Images

As Kimi Raikkonen approaches his NASCAR Cup Series debut, a fellow driver does not believe the ex-F1 racer can win on the first attempt.

When Raikkonen departed Formula 1 at the end of 2021, he made his intentions clear to spend more time with the family, and as for any further involvement in racing, no plans at all had been made at that point.

Raikkonen will, though, return to action this weekend as he makes his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Watkins Glen with Trackhouse Racing.

‘The Iceman’ experienced plenty of success in Formula 1, winning his sole World Championship in 2007 and claiming 21 race victories across his career.

 

 

But, Denny Hamlin, who will compete against Raikkonen at Wakins Glen with Joe Gibbs Racing, can not envisage a scenario where Raikkonen claims a victory on debut.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and Trackhouse and whatnot, but as far as being a contender to race for the win, I don’t think that’s a possibility,” Hamlin told reporters as he discussed Raikkonen’s chances at Watkins Glen.

“Just simply because it does take time. If you look at the people who have been successful in stock cars coming from open-wheel backgrounds, it takes a long time.

“Other than you got these anomalies like Tony Stewart and a few others. [Juan Pablo] Montoya took a little bit of time. But it’s just really difficult because everyone has gotten so much better, especially with the information, the data, they’ve got nowadays. All the drivers that are in the field now have really stepped up dramatically.

“I think it’s a good thing for our sport to get some good publicity, but other than that, I’m not really sure it changes the dynamic of the race too much.”

Although this will be Raikkonen’s first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series, it is not his outright NASCAR debut.

Back in 2011 Raikkonen made a sole appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

During his Formula 1 career, Raikkonen raced for Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Alfa Romeo.

 

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