Kimi Raikkonen finishes 15th at Charlotte in NASCAR debut

A insônia toma conta desta que vos escreve então estou aqui postando mais sobre a estreia de Kimi na Truck Series, ontem. Meus comentários seguem no final.

Kimi Raikkonen finishes 15th at Charlotte in NASCAR debut
By Nate Ryan, USA TODAY

CHARLOTTE — Kimi Raikkonen slammed the wall twice, missed pit road and spent the North Carolina Education 200 mastering the stock-car lexicon while manhandling a tight Toyota.

In his NASCAR debut, the 2007 Formula One world champion still managed to finish 15th — despite starting 31st.

How did the Finn feel about what many might consider a fabulous start? Naturally, Raikkonen was nonchalant.

"I mean you'd rather be more higher up," he said with a shrug and a wry smile after taking a sip from his Red Bull water bottle. "I think how it felt this morning and how it qualified, I'm pretty pleased how it was in the race. For sure, there is still a lot to learn."

A whirlwind introduction to the Camping World Truck Series that began with Raikkonen asking where the reverse gear was in his No. 15 Tundra concluded nicely Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Raikkonen ran as high as sixth after early in the race (gaining more than a dozen positions when he missed a cue to pit during a second caution).

On a night when NASCAR champions Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Kyle Busch (the race winner and owner of Raikkonen's truck) spun, Raikkonen stayed out of trouble until heavy contact with the outside wall late in the race. Though he didn't pass many trucks, he also didn't yield positions easily.

"His first hit on NASCAR was probably pleasant compared to what it could be," said Rick Ren, Raikkonen's crew chief. "The race went well. He talked a lot during the race, which is unusual. He's known as not talkative. He's not used to having a spotter. He does everything you ask him to do. I can't believe he's not pleased with his first race. I'm pleased for him, because I know how difficult it is here.

"What impressed me more than anything is restarts. He didn't spin the tires. I was like, 'Wow, this guy is good.' "

Raikkonen did concede he was more happy after the race than following two tough practices that morning. Ren admittedly set the truck up tighter than usual (which is standard for rookie drivers unaccustomed to saving a loose vehicle), but neither of Kyle Busch Motorsports' Toyotas were handling well, and Busch said the truck was the source of Raikkonen's struggles.

Besides an ill-handling vehicle, Raikkonen also went through a crash course in NASCAR with Ren, who tried to explain what the flags meant, how to pit and the procedures after a wreck.

"We went through as many scenarios as we could, but there's always something that you can't think of everything," Ren said.

In this case, it was the "free pass rule", which confused Raikkonen on a restart (an explanation that a driver was whizzing by because he was the "Lucky Dog" was met with silence), and if fuel loads affected handling late in the race.

Ren said Raikkonen still handled all of it with aplomb.

"I think he grasped it very well," he said. "It all worked out fine. I just think today went well."
It got easier once Raikkonen was comfortable in traffic.

"You learn from restarts and where you should go and stuff like that," he said. "It was more fun than I expected, the racing."

So what's next? Raikkonen was coy, but Busch said after the race there is a Nationwide Camry at his shop (though not owned by KBM). It's expected Raikkonen will attempt his Nationwide debut at Charlotte next week.

If he does, he likely will be greeted just as warmly as he was Friday. Five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson gushed about what Raikkonen's presence meant to the sport. Juan Pablo Montoya, who had feuded with Raikkonen at McLaren, sought out his ex-F1 teammate in the morning to offer advice and then went to the starting grid to offer good luck wishes before the race.

The prerace receiving line also included F1 veteran (and fellow truck racer) Nelson Piquet Jr. and ex-McLaren exec Steve Hallam (now at Michael Waltrip Racing).

"If he wants to be here, I think I can help a lot and give some pointers," said Montoya, who added he wanted to greet Raikkonen just as Kevin Harvick had bent over backward to help the Colombian at a 2006 test in Homestead. "I want him to know it's different over here."

Raikkonen said the collegial atmosphere reminded him of the World Rally Championship, in which he'd raced since leaving F1 in 2009.

"Everyone has been very nice and welcoming," he said. "So it was nice to feel very relaxed. It's been good.

"(Montoya) was nice to see. I haven't seen him in for a long time."

Will he see more of him in the future? Raikkonen certainly seemed to be hinting so, indicating he wanted to run the Sprint Cup Series— this year.

"What brings me here? I think it's many, many different reasons for that," he said. "Since I stopped in Formula 1, my interests have always been in many different motor sports. I want to try different things and this wasn't the first time that I have been offered to come here. I had a good time to come and see how it is and learn and try to get better in it. That's really the only reason that I came. I was interested to see how it is and how it feels and how it is racing in NASCAR."

via @nateryan

Depois de ler este texto sobre a estreia de Kimi na Nascar, só posso reafirmar uma coisa, estou feliz. Na verdade, é algo que tenho dito sempre, desde que nosso octete saiu da F1 e ingressou no Mundial de rali. O que faz Kimi feliz, me faz também e isto definitivamente é o suficiente para mim.

Saber que ele é reconhecido em seu talento, em sua personalidade, como o chefe de equipe da KMB Rick Ren mencionou, além de também ter ficado impressionado como o finlandês estava falante (já que a fama que o precede dizia o contrário), ter a confirmação através deste texto que a estreia do Iceman foi boa, vê-lo ser bem recebido na Nascar (como foi no WRC), tudo isto me dá a certeza de que relembrar o passado, não é algo que valha a pena. Quer dizer, somente se for pelas pelas boas lembranças. O presente de Räikkönen é muito mais feliz.

Beijinhos, Ludy


Mah disse…
Ludy, a pressa não me deixou chegar por aqui mais cedo... Estou muuuito feliz por td que tenho encontrado aqui... É verdade mesmo, Kimi em 15o na estréia na Nascar? Não que eu duvide do seu talento, mas sabemos que as coisas não são fáceis como pensam, e que nem nós esperávamos isso! Estou mt orgulhosa! E é nessas horas que vejo pq torcer pelo Kimi vale tanto a pena! Ahh, sem contar no "cala a boca" nos jornalistas que tanto o criticam... Booooa, Iceman!

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