Kimi Räikkönen will again enter a NASCAR Cup Series race, this time at Circuit of the Americas, where the Finnish driver scored the final victory of his Formula One career in 2018.
Räikkönen will again race for Trackhouse Entertainment Group in its special Project91 entry that is designed to give a seat in NASCAR to drivers from others disciplines. Räikkönen made his Cup Series debut last August for Trackhouse at Watkins Glen, where he was competitive until he was collected in a crash and finished 37th.
“I had a fantastic time in NASCAR,” the Finnish driver said. "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.”
Räikkönen has made eight career F1 starts at COTA and his win on the Texas road course in 2018 for Ferrari was the last of his 21 career victories. The 2007 F1 champion has two career podiums at COTA.
Räikkönen will drive the No. 91 Chevrolet, a car Trackhouse Racing has created specifically for non-NASCAR drivers. Project91 only ran Watkins Glen last season, and passed on an opportunity to enter four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the Daytona 500 to focus on its full-time entrants.
Trackhouse fields Chevys for Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, who both made NASCAR's playoffs last season. Chastain advanced to the championship race and finished second in the standings to champion Joey Logano.
Chastain, meanwhile, scored his first career Cup Series victory last year at COTA. It was also Trackhouse's first win.
“When we announced Kimi last year I said he was the global superstar I had in mind when we created PROJECT91," said Trackhouse team owner Justin Marks. "I think you saw the fan reception across the world and Kimi’s performance in the car was proof of the concept. Kimi’s following is massive and it’s great for NASCAR and Trackhouse, plus I think Kimi really enjoys our racing.”
Räikkönen will visit the North Carolina shop before the March 26 race, but will not be able to test the car. He was permitted a test before Watkins Glen last year.
“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.”
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports