Listen to this article
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion was the program’s first driver, debuting last year at the Aug. 21 Cup race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
The Finn ran as high as eighth during a round of pit stops until he crashed out late following a late-race restart, injuring his wrist after a collision sent his car in a tire barrier.
“I had a fantastic time in NASCAR,” said Räikkönen. “There was a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, but everyone was very helpful, the competition was a big challenge.
“This time I get to race on a track I am familiar with so there won’t be as steep of a learning curve. I want to have fun, but also do as well as we can.”
A familiar circuit
Unlike the Watkins Glen track, Räikkönen is familiar with COTA, racing on the road course eight times during his Formula 1 career.
One of Räikkönen’s 21 Formula 1 victories, and most recent, came at COTA on Oct. 21, 2018, when he led 39 laps on his way to victory driving a Ferrari.
Räikkönen will race the No. 91 Onx/iLOQ Chevrolet Camaro at COTA fielded by a Trackhouse crew led by 23-time wining crew chief Darian Grubb who won a Cup Series title with Tony Stewart in 2011.
“When we announced Kimi last year I said he was the global superstar I had in mind when we created Project 91. I think you saw the fan reception across the world and Kimi’s performance in the car was proof of the concept,” Marks said.
“Kimi’s following is massive and it’s great for NASCAR, Trackhouse plus I think Kimi really enjoys our racing.”
Marks said Räikkönen will again visit the shop in the days before the Austin, Texas event, but no test sessions are planned before the COTA race.
“I’m sure there are a lot of drivers that would like to have a chance to try NASCAR,” said Räikkönen. “It’s not very easy, so maybe it will open some doors in the future for more chances to try and get more Europeans into the sport.”
The Finn retired from Formula 1 in 2021 after competing with the Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Alfa Romeo teams since he started in 2001. His highlight came in 2007 when he won the F1 World Driving title for Scuderia Ferrari.
He also competed in the Xfinity and Truck Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2011.
Marks said that NASCAR’s increased schedule of road course races allows him to offer drives to high-profile European stars, as their transition to the Next Gen car – which debuted last season – wouldn’t be as difficult preparing for an oval event.
Kimi Raikkonen, TrackHouse Racing, Recogni Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images