Kimi Raikkonen's NASCAR Cup Test Brings Trackhouse Racing's Project 91 to Reality

·3 min read
Photo credit: Trackhouse Racing
Photo credit: Trackhouse Racing
  • Kimi Raikkonen returned to the seat of a NASCAR stock car on Thursday at Virginia International Raceway.

  • Raikkonen, who retired from Formula 1 following the 2021 season, will be driving a third car for Trackhouse Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen on August 21.

  • While it will be Raikkonen's first Cup race, it won't be his first taste of NASCAR.

It's full speed ahead for Project 91 at Trackhouse Racing, as 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen returned to the seat of a NASCAR stock car at Virginia International Raceway on Thursday.

Photo credit: Trackhouse Racing
Photo credit: Trackhouse Racing

Raikkonen, who retired from Formula 1 following the 2021 season, will be driving a third car for Trackhouse Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen on August 21. While it will be Raikkonen's first Cup race, it won't be his first taste of NASCAR. He previously race in both a Truck Series and Xfinity Series race for team owner Kyle Busch at Charlotte in 2011.

Project 91 was launched in May with the intent on bringing some of the world's best drivers from different racing disciplines into NASCAR, and ultimately bring new fans with them.

“I truly believe the Next Gen car represents an opportunity for NASCAR to enter the global professional motorsport conversation," Marks said in May when announcing the initiative. "We now have a race vehicle with international technological relevance where world-class drivers from other disciplines can compete at NASCAR’s highest level without the steep learning curve that the previous generation cars required."

At Watkins Glen, Raikkonen will team with Trackhouse's Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

“I’m optimistic (and) I have high expectations,” Marks told Racer. “I think that the speed and the race craft and adaptation to the track and the car is not going to be an issue at all. Just spending time with him in the shop, the way he was prepared when he first showed up here in America—not just 24 hours ago—he was asking questions about (Ross Chastain’s) pit penalty at Michigan, he had questions about short pitting stages and how to work strategy backward at the road courses. He has really done a lot of work and preparation, and that’s not surprising to me because that’s what it takes to be as successful as he’s been in Formula 1 for so long.

“From a speed and preparation and knowledge standpoint, I think he’s going to be right on par. I think where the challenge is going to be is making sure he understands the race from a procedural standpoint—that he understands the rules and all that."