NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen has teamed up with Kyle Busch Motorsports to make his NASCAR debut in the truck series in May, both sides announced yesterday.
“I am really excited to have the opportunity to start my venture into NASCAR with Kyle Busch Motorsports,” the Finn, 2007 champion with Ferrari and now competing in the world rally championship, said in a statement issued by the team.
“Kyle is one of the best in NASCAR, and being able to draw on his knowledge will be a valuable asset as I make my transition to a new form of racing.
“He has put together an experienced team that builds fast race trucks. I look forward to being a part of a team that has proven to be a winner on and off the race track,” added the 31-year-old. Raikkonen, dubbed ‘The Iceman’ during his Formula One years, is planning a limited programme in the North American series when his rallying commitments allow.
Busch, 25, drives in all three of NASCAR’s top-level series and said he was honoured to have Raikkonen on board.
“Adding one of the most talented drivers in the world is a continuation of building a team of proven winners and champions at KBM,” he said. “I look forward to assisting in Kimi’s transition to NASCAR as both an owner and team mate.”
Raikkonen will test on Monday at Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia and make his NASCAR debut on May 20 at the truck race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We are going to test with him on Monday and get him some laps in a truck and see him in Charlotte,” Busch told reporters.
The truck series is NASCAR’s third tier after the premier Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. The statement said sponsorship details and a schedule of races for Raikkonen would be released at a later date. NASCAR officials have confirmed that the Finnish driver has been approved to drive. Currently ex-Formula One drivers in NASCAR include Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya in the Sprint Cup Series and Brazil’s Nelson Piquet, Jr. in the Truck Series.