Kimi Raikkonen Becomes NASCAR Pay-Driver: Huge Personality to Dazzle U.S. Fans

Duncan ScottAnalyst IApril 3, 2011

Smiles Are So Painful
Smiles Are So PainfulKer Robertson/Getty Images

NASCAR's legion of fans will surely be thrilled to learn that another former F1 driver is definitely heading their way.

Kimi Raikkonen, the F1 champion of 2007, who was fired by Ferrari in 2009 to make a space for Fernando Alonso, has signed a deal to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series. Those not closely following NASCAR may be disappointed to learn that the series does not actually race articulated trucks with thirty tons of gravel aboard, but what are described as "modified pick-up trucks."

Kimi's NASCAR debut is scheduled for May 20th at Charlotte. After that, apparently, the number of drives he gets will depend entirely on how many he can pay for.

Kyle Bush has told the BBC, "I don't know where the money is coming from. My contract is with Kimi himself. I do know that there's three sponsors involved, I'll wait for their press release to see if they announce who they are, but there is money backing him."

That financial situation is a sharp contrast to his later F1 years, when he was reckoned to be the fifth highest paid sports star in the world. How are the mighty fallen.

How will NASCAR fans take to yet another declining former F1 driver? That remains to be seen, but the NASCAR records of Villeneuve, Montoya, etc do not suggest that skills acquired in F1 give any special advantage.

This writer eagerly awaits Kimi's first encounters with the US media. Notoriously taciturn to the point of surliness, his interviews during his F1 days were excruciating to watch, and it will be most interesting to observe how he copes in the land of sunny smiles.


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