Kimi Raikkonen says he could have made his NASCAR Cup Series debut for Trackhouse Racing earlier than Watkins Glen but opted not to rush his entry to be as competitive as possible.
Trackhouse is running a third car program for international drivers called PROJECT91, with Raikkonen confirmed as the first entry in August. The Finn says he had the opportunity to race in an earlier round of the season but wanted to give himself more time to prepare, while he remains unsure as to whether it will lead to more appearances in future.
“Maybe it was the end of last year or even earlier, but I knew maybe something was going to come up,” Raikkonen said. “At first I wasn’t looking at it in a very serious way, but lately we had more talks about it — how would it work, where the race would be and all sorts of other things — and it all made sense for me. Obviously it’s one race, so it made sense for all of us as a family.
“I always enjoyed it when I had a few races there and will hopefully have a good race and good fun. Obviously it’s new cars and I’ve never been to the track — wherever it is! — and things like that but I’m sure we can figure it out soon.
“Nobody knows (if there will be more in future). I don’t know. Now we know that at least I’ll do one. Justin (Marks, Trackhouse co-owner) flew all the way from the U.S. to here to visit and sold the whole thing well to me, so here we are!
“There were options to do more this year but I think it all came a bit too quickly. To try to do it as well as we can on all the sides I think was better to wait until this race, so we can prepare everything and at least say we did the work 100% right. What the outcome is nobody knows but we will at least give ourselves the best chance we can.
“What comes after that? I don’t know, nobody knows. We’ll try to do a good race there and enjoy it and see what the future brings, but I have no other plans. That’s all I have right now and we’ll go from there.”
Raikkonen says he’s looking forward to going racing once again after more than six months since his last F1 start, although he doesn’t think his racing history will have a particular benefit at Watkins Glen.
“I have had a motocross team for many years — I have a factory Kawasaki team directly contacted from Japan — but I do that as fun for me when I’m riding, but for racing I’m too slow! Maybe some club races for fun, but racing is nice. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s F1 or other categories.
“Obviously the F1 story is behind me, this came up and it made a lot of sense in many ways. I had the experience, I think without the experience of the two races — one in the Trucks and one in the Nationwide (now Xfinity Series) — I wouldn’t be that interested but knowing how it goes, that was obviously on an oval and this is now a road course; I’m looking forward to it. I think they have good, close racing and on the road course I will maybe have a chance at least to try to do something.”