How Raikkonen got to NASCAR, and why Waltrip team could be next UPDATE #2
Former Formula One star Kimi Raikkonen might start his NASCAR career in the Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports, but the bigger question in the NASCAR garage is where he will eventually end up.
|Kimi Raikkonen buying his way into the lowest form of motorsports in America - the NASCAR Truck Series. There must be more to the story|
Kyle Busch Motorsports isn’t likely to go Sprint Cup racing, and as a former Formula One champion, Raikkonen probably isn’t interested in toying in the development leagues for long, even though he probably should.
While it would make sense that he could transition from KBM to the team Busch drives for in Cup – Joe Gibbs Racing – that might not be the best possibility.
The best scenario could be Michael Waltrip Racing. Team general manager Ty Norris declined comment, an indication that MWR may have interest in Raikkonen.
Of all the teams that could expand, MWR seems the most willing. It already fields a part-time car for team owner Michael Waltrip and has the personnel to field three full-time teams.
And Waltrip likes experiments. Look at what the organization is doing with action sports star Travis Pastrana in trying to develop him for NASCAR.
With Steve Hallam as its competition director, MWR has someone who has worked with Raikkonen before as Hallam was with McLaren when the Finnish driver competed for the team. Hallam can explain the nuances of NASCAR racing and teach Raikkonen the lifestyle, giving him guidance on things that might not go over well in the NASCAR garage that were OK in Formula One, everything from competitor relations to fan interaction.
MWR also is a team that has both Nationwide and Cup cars ready and available. Scenedaily.com
04/05/11 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen will pay a reported $100,000 per race as he moves to establish a career in America's premier NASCAR series.
Canada's Rue Frontenac said driver and team owner "Kyle Busch has never met Kimi Raikkonen" but will "entrust one of his excellent trucks" to the Finn "in exchange for a US$100,000 check at every race".
Following news F1's world champion of 2007 is combining his world rallying with NASCAR in 2011, it has been confirmed that the 31-year-old has signed with Kyle Busch to debut in the Truck Series race in Charlotte next month.
Rue Frontenac said Raikkonen's plan is to "pay for some truck races to raise interest and get a sponsorship budget for Nationwide and possibly the (premier) Sprint Cup".
His contract with Busch is reportedly for three to five races.
"Raikkonen shopped around for a drive with a number of teams and we won the war," Busch is quoted as saying.
Raikkonen tested the truck at the Gresham half-mile on Monday.04/04/11 About a year ago a colleague of ours had dinner at Michael Waltrip's shop and the team manager sat at his table. They talked F1 for over an hour because Toyota wanted him to run the team because he had just left McLaren's F1 team and knew how to run a winning operation.
So, if he look at the fact that Kimi was at McLaren when this guy was there so he knew Kimi's talents, and the guy Toyota brought to the US is running a Toyota NASCAR team, it all makes sense that Kimi is testing Kyle Busch's Toyota truck.
And if you listened to Kyle Busch's early comments, he really had nothing to do with the deal, it was all prearranged by Toyota.