Kimi Räikkönen to make NASCAR return at Watkins Glen


Kimi Räikkönen is set to return to racing with a one-off NASCAR cameo at Watkins Glen

Kimi Raikkonen 2021 portrait

Räikkönen will return to racing for single NASCAR outing

Joe Portlock/Getty Images

Kimi Räikkönen is set to make his return to motor sport at the wheel of a Chevrolet Camaro NASCAR Cup car at Watkins Glen in August.

The 2007 F1 world champion, who retired last season after 19 years on the sport, will join the Trackhouse Racing team as part of its PROJECT91 initiative, which will see guest drivers compete in one-off NASCAR races.

The Finn has previously said he not entertained ideas of racing again, but that he had been persuaded by his past stock car experience.

“We had more talks about it, how would it work, where the race would be, and all sorts of other things,” said Raikkonen. “There’s a lot of things involved, and it all made sense for me.

“It’s one race, so it made sense for all of us as a family. I always enjoyed it when I had my few races [in the US].

“Hopefully we have a good race and good fun. Obviously it’s a new car and I’ve never been at the track. But I’m sure we can figure it out.”

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 28: Kimi Raikkonen, driver of the #87 Perky Jerky Toyota, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Räikkönen leads a group on his previous NASCAR appearance 11 years ago

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Räikkönen has competed in NASCAR before, during his F1 sabbatical between in 2011. The Finn made his debut at North Carolina, finishing 15th in the Truck series, before graduating to the second-tier Nationwide (now Xfinity) for a single race. Plans for further races were scrapped due to sponsorship issues.

The Trackhouse team, owned by popular rapper Pitbull, has been something of a revelation this season. After making its debut last year with a one-car team headed by Daniel Suarez, the outfit took over Chip Ganassi’s stock car operation to expand its own, and has only been in the ascendancy since then.

The young team has taken in former Ganassi driver Ross Chastain also, the American winning two races and claiming seven top-five finishes in total so far this year.

The last F1 world champion to appear at a NASCAR race was Jacques Villeneuve at this year’s Daytona 500, the French-Canadian finishing 22nd.