CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Former Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen will make his Nationwide Series debut on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Raikkonen was listed on the entry release that came out Monday as driver for the No. 87 Toyota for NEMCO Motorsports. The car is owned by Joe Nemechek, but he made a deal with Kyle Busch to let Raikkonen drive Saturday.
Raikkonen made his NASCAR debut Friday night with a 15th-place finish in the Trucks Series race driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The Finn had hinted he’d be back at Charlotte this week even before his Trucks debut. Following the race _ in which he twice hit the wall, missed a call into the pits and had to learn NASCAR’s rules on restarts _ he said only “we’ll see” about the Nationwide event.
But Busch, who won the Trucks race, later admitted he had a car at his shop ready for Raikkonen. KBM is currently only a truck team, and Busch needed Nemechek to help get Raikkonen into the race.
Raikkonen has given no indication how far he plans to take his NASCAR venture. He’s said only that he’s trying NASCAR to see how he likes it, and will base his progression off of that.
“I don’t have big plans. I don’t have any plans for next year or anything of what I do,” he said before the race. “I see how it is because I didn’t have any expectations when I came here. It’s a bit like when I went to rally _ I didn’t have much expectation, I wanted to see how it is.
“It’s the same story here. For sure, it’s a different sport. Different type of racing than what we have in Europe. It’s very popular here and maybe it looks easy, but it’s not so easy to be fast. We’ll see how it goes and what the future will bring. We go step by step and see what happens.”
Raikkonen spent nine years in Formula One, driving for Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari. He totaled 18 wins, 62 podium finishes and won the 2007 championship.
He’s racing for the World Rally Car Championship with his own team, ICE 1 Racing, and is ranked eighth in the overall standings. He’s not scheduled to compete again in that series until next month in Greece.