Kimi Raikkonen to make Cup debut with Trackhouse at Watkins Glen

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Former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut with Trackhouse Racing at Watkins Glen, the team announced Thursday.

Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, is the first driver announced to compete for Trackhouse’s “PROJECT91,” a program announced Tuesday using a part-time No. 91 Chevrolet entry to field internationally renowned drivers in Cup events.

Raikkonen made respective Xfinity and Truck starts in May 2011. He retired from F1 at the conclusion of the 2021 season.

“Kimi Raikkonen is the driver I first had in mind when we created PROJECT91,” Trackhouse owner Justin Marks said in a press release. “Kimi is a world-renowned driver with a tremendous amount of talent and fan following. We have had long discussions, and like us, he is already hard at work preparing for Watkins Glen.”

Raikkonen won 21 races and claimed 103 podiums in Formula One, with stints at Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari Lotus and Alfa Romeo in a career that began in 2001.

“I wasn’t looking to race again, but Justin came to my home in Switzerland and convinced me how serious he was about putting together a top-notch program,” Raikkonen said in a release. “This will be fun, but it’s something I will take very seriously. I know how competitive the NASCAR Cup Series is and it will be a big challenge.”

In his lone NASCAR ventures, Raikkonen finished 15th in a Kyle Busch Motorsports truck and finished 27th in a KBM-fielded Xfinity Series entry, both at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The team plans to bring Raikkonen to the team’s race shop in Concord, North Carolina to prepare Raikkonen for the August race. Darian Grubb, who won the 2011 championship as crew chief for Tony Stewart, will lead Raikkonen’s team. Grubb has 23 career wins.

Marks said Raikkonen’s entry at Watkins Glen is the only PROJECT91 race planned for 2022 but expects more races in 2023 with additional drivers.