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Kimi Raikkonen to make NASCAR return with Trackhouse

Photo by Dominic Aragon/TRE

CONCORD, N.C. — Trackhouse Racing announced Kimi Raikkonen will return to NASCAR for the first time in 11 years.

Raikkonen will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut, driving a No. 91 Chevrolet for Trackhouse at Watkins Glen, Aug. 21.

The 2007 Formula One World Champion’s most recent NASCAR start was May 28, 2011, in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Charlotte. He stepped away from full-time F1 competition after last season.

“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. “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.”

CHARLOTTE, NC – MAY 26: Kimi Raikkonen (L), driver of the #87 Perky Jerky Toyota, talks with Joe Nemechek (R), driver of the #97 & Wood Stoves Chevrolet, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Raikkonen will be the first driver for the team’s PROJECT91, aimed at expanding the organization’s international reach by bringing accomplished international racers into the Cup Series.

“Kimi Raikkonen is the driver I first had in mind when we created PROJECT91,” team owner Justin Marks said. “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’s entry at Watkins Glen is set to be the only PROJECT91 race for 2022 but more races are expected in 2023 with additional drivers.

Darian Grubb will serve as Raikkonen’s crew chief.

LOUDON, NH – JULY 15: Crew chief Darian Grubb for Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, looks on during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, 2012 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

As a crew chief, Grubb has 23 Cup wins – with Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Casey Mears. One of his wins was at Watkins Glen in 2009 with Stewart who, in 2011, he also won the Cup championship with.

Grubb’s most recent race was the 2018 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway when he closed out his full-time tenure with William Byron, with a 24th-place finish.

Kimi Raikkonen made two NASCAR starts, each at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2011.

Raikkonen finished 15th driving a No. 15 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Eight days later, he finished 27th, four laps down, driving a NASCAR Xfinity Series No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota.

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