Just one week has passed since Kimis sensational entry into NASCAR racing. This time he took the step up to the Nationwide class from the truck series. You could say that Nationwide is kinda like GP2, whereas the Sprint Cup are the F1 class when it comes to NASCAR. The Nationwide cars are almost as powerful as an F1 car – nearly 700 horsepower but a little over twice as heavy.
Kimi did incredibly well for a rookie in last weeks truck race but its a quick jump up to a much more competitive class. A lot of the drivers here also compete in the Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch and main sponsor Perky Jerky were still behind him but the 87 car was provided by Joe Nemechek.
Qualifying went a lot better than his truck qualifying last weekend. In much stiffer competition he was 22nd fastest after his 2 laps were done. A little brush on the wall on the first lap and then half a second quicker on the next got him placed smack-dab in the middle of the field. His laps:
Not bad for a guy who never drove a Nationwide car before in his life. Except for a couple of hours in practice that same day. A cool snippet from the practice session is this little tidbit from when Carl Edwards who is the current leader of the Sprint Cup. He saw the 87 car catch a crazy slide on the track. His immidiate response was “Who’s that in the 87??”.
A later comment from Edwards revealed he really didnt know at the time: “I had no clue, and then I saw that Perky Jerky (Raikkonen’s sponsor) on there, and I thought it might be him, but he definitely has some car control — that’s for sure. That’s not lip service. That was pretty amazing. I might have seen smoke off the right-rear.”
Read more: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2011-05-28/edwards-on-raikkonen-who-is-that-guy#ixzz1NmNcAAi4
Haha. Thats Kimi for ya.
Green flag and 43 V8 engines go full throttle around the Charlotte track! Kimi gets a good start and makes up 4 places. Would he drop back and be lapped soon? No, apparently not. Even if the frontrunners went away, he kept it on the lead lap. Sometimes helped by a caution which closed the field up again. His strongest points were the restarts. My guess is his reflexes are a lot better than some of his competitors from having to react in a split second to the lights going out for the F1 starts. Every single time he made up at least 2-3 places. At one point he was running in 14th position briefly.
But he faced a strange and unexpected problem there in the cockpit. After some laps he gets on the radio with this message: “Biggest problem is my foot. It’s burning. Inside the cockpit. The floor and everything.” Also: “Even my ass is burning up. Everything is just burning up. My legs and my ass!”
And later the team asks him how his feet are. Kimi: “They are burning, but I get them off the floor so it’s better. … Need drink.”
And that led to another nuisance. He kept emptying his drinks bottle. And he was complaining it was too small, thus urging the team to fill it up to the brim. At one point a crew member gave him the wrong bottle that was empty! That prompted this response from Kimi: “I need my drinking bottle. (pause) HEY, GIVE ME MY DRINKING BOTTLE!”
All this while running on the lead lap in the top 20. It looked set for another strong race for the NASCAR newbie. He was complaining about the car though. Not being able to turn in like he wanted it to. When he is lapped by Kyle Busch at one point he tells his team: “See how he gets the car down. I have no chance to get the car down like that.” He did stay on the lead lap for 140 out of 200 laps. Unfortunately it starts to go wrong from there.
After a pitstop he gets busted for speeding and has to do a drivethrough. No pit limiter button in NASCAR. You have to watch the revs and stay below a certain rpm. So its a common mistake that even old foxes make. Unfortunately it sends him 2 laps down. After that, he hits debris on the track. Its a front splitter from another car that get wedged under the splitter on Kimis car. So he has to come into the pits again to have it removed. Why there was no caution due to this piece of debris is a mystery. But it is what it is and Kimi just makes the most of it being 4 laps down and brings it home in 27th.
You can see a clip of the team removing the splitter from his car here. (After the commercial):
Apart from the unlucky breaks towards the end of the race, Kimi did even better in this race than in the truck race last week. The competition was tougher. He had even less running in this car than the truck. He held his own in the race and rocked the restarts. Charlotte is also known for being one of the hardest tracks during the season.
Things he has learned is to have heat insulating boots on and a bigger water bottle 😉 And watch the revs closely when going thru the pitlane. Luckily he said his feet were fine after the race.
Even though some news sites report that his second race was no big success, his crew chief Rick Ren disagrees. Apart from the bad luck, Kimi was a top 15 guy according to him. I do not think the experience has turned Kimi off from NASCAR at all. In fact I am quite sure he will do all he can to get a Cup ride for the road course of Sonoma. That race is June the 26th. Plenty of time to do that as the WRC season has its big summer break before Rally Finland then. If Kimi wants something, it seems he will make it happen somehow. To the press he says “we will see”. But I am sure he has already decided to do that race. So stay tuned. Would absolutely love to see Kimi do a road course.
Until then we are getting fired up for some rally action in Greece. Starts on the 16th of June. Keep flying Kimi Ray!
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