Previous Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Kimi Raikkonen may have crashed out on his NASCAR Cup debut at Watkins Glen last weekend, but his performance impressed many at Watkins Glen.
It wasn’t The Iceman’s first appearance in NASCAR competition after contesting Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, however last weekend marked his first run in the top tier.
Raikkonen’s one-off appearance for Trackhouse Racing’s Project91 – a team set-up to encourage international drivers to race in NASCAR – started by qualifying 27th and was on the brink of entering the top 20 when he crashed at the Bus Stop chicane.
An incident ahead between Ross Chastain and Austin Dillon, led to fellow international driver Loris Hezemans contacting Raikkonen to send the recently retired Formula 1 driver into the wall.
“I thought I had a good line there but everybody seemed to come (to) the left. Unfortunately, I had no time to react,” explained Raikkonen.
“The first impact, somebody hit the tire or the wheel directly and the (steering) wheel spun. There is something wrong with the wrist, but that’s how it goes.”
He was to be classified in 37th, but is unsure of a return despite enjoying the experience.
“We’ll see, I don’t know,” Raikkonen said.
“I felt more confidence all the time and had some good battles and yeah, it’s a shame. The car felt like it had a lot of speed in there but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Prior to the event, Raikkonen was uncharacteristically open when discussing his love for NASCAR and the history of Watkins Glen.
“Generally, it’s just nice to race whoever it’s going to be,” he said. “It’s always exciting when you race against people that you haven’t raced against before.
“[In NASCAR] they’re very professional. The rules are slightly different than what I’m used to, but I’m happy to be here and meet the guys. I remember from the last time – they’re very relaxed, easy-going and it’s easy to talk to other drivers. It’s a bit different than what I’m used to from where I come from.
“Obviously I know a little bit of the history of F1 being here and have seen some old videos from. It’s a great place and a nice area. It sort of feels like the middle of nowhere, but I enjoy that. It’s good to be here.”
Multi-discipline ace Kyle Larson defeated Chase Elliott to win at Watkins Glen.