Reports are surfacing that 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen will drive in the Camping World Truck Series this summer. Raikkonen, who is currently driving the World Rally Championship, will drive for a new Truck Series team, ICE1 Racing, which has Foster Gillett as a partner. Gillett ran Richard Petty Motorsports until last year, when Petty took control of the team.
Raikkonen was quoted in a Finnish paper as saying:
I’m really looking forward to get there to familiarize to the world of NASCAR. I have been following it for a long time. I know, it’s a very tough and open top racing series. I just love the American spirit of racing. It feels just great to get involved with that. Obviously, it will be very challenging and great fun for me.
Raikkonen’s business manager confirmed the news.
Ray Evernham, who worked with the Gilletts when they purchased his Sprint Cup Series team to form Gillett Evernham Motorsports, reacted to the news in an article for Auto123.com. He said:
I really don’t know why Kimi would partner with people who continually fail with sports franchises. I don’t know how they could leave with so many unpaid bills and return to the sport.
Juan Montoya said he would welcome Raikkonen to the sport. He said:
Well, people talk a lot and I’ve heard the story already before, but if he’s definitely coming it would be really good for him and for the sport. He would be very welcome here.
Update: Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that it has signed Raikkonen to drive a KBM Toyota in the Truck Series this season, starting with the N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20. Sponsorship details and a schedule of the races Raikkonen will drive have yet to be released.
Team owner Kyle Busch said:
We are honored that Kimi Raikkonen, a former Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion and proven winner, has chosen to start his career in NASCAR with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Adding one of the most talented drivers in the world is a continuation of building a team of proven winners and champions at KBM. I look forward to assisting in Kimi’s transition to NASCAR as both an owner and teammate.
Kyle is one of the best in NASCAR, and being able to draw on his knowledge will be a valuable asset as I make my transition to a new form of racing. He has put together an experienced team that builds fast race trucks. I look forward to being a part of a team that has proven to be a winner on and off the race track.