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Project 91’s stated intention is to field “world-class drivers from other disciplines to compete at NASCAR’s highest level”.
After fielding Raikkonen at Watkins Glen last year, Marks said he’d increase the program to “six to eight” Cup races in 2023, while retaining its focus on road courses.
Raikkonen raced to a 29th-place finish at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas on Sunday, having run as high as fourth entering the closing stages. The next road course on the Cup schedule is June’s Sonoma race, which Trackhouse won last year with regular driver Daniel Suarez, and while Marks confirmed a new face would be joining his team, he refused to be too specific.
“Project 91 is going to race more this year,” Marks told SiriusXM. “We’re going to have a different driver in the car the next time we’re out. We’ve closed a great sponsor for that, so the deal’s done.
“Right now, we’re just getting kinda mobilized around how we’re going to make a really cool, exciting announcement around it because I think it’s going to be really neat, it’s going to be a cool program.
“It’s going to be somebody that has got very, very different experience from NASCAR but in some ways is actually perfectly suited for a Cup race.
“This is somebody who has not raced in America very much at all, but I think is going to be able to go to this particular race and make some real noise. I’m excited about that.”
Raikkonen could return to the drive later in the season, and posted on Instagram after COTA: “A fun and a rough ride. Not the end result we wanted. Until next time!”
Shane van Gisbergen, Riley Motorsports
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
Will it be Supercars ace Shane van Gisbergen?
Three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen revealed in September last year that he’d spoken to Marks about joining Project 91 in future.
Having shifted to the Chevrolet brand this year with the new Gen3 era in Australia’s premier series, he would be a logical choice to drive its Camaro in Cup as well.
“I’d love to do a [NASCAR] road course and have a go, for sure,” said van Gisbergen. “It’s just getting the right opportunity. We did speak, but it’s all dependent on our calendar and what races I can do.”
The Kiwi flagged the Chicago street race as an ideal venue – its July 1-2 slot is free for him, as is Sonoma’s June 11 race date.
“They’ve got the Chicago street circuit for the first time,” he added. “A street circuit would suit me, I reckon.
“That would be good as well because it’s a new track for everyone, so certainly that would help me get up to speed if everyone else is learning as well. That would be a good one, but let’s see.”
Van Gisbergen has raced in America before, driving Porsche, Mercedes and Lexus GTD cars in IMSA SportsCar Championship competition at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen.