Kimi Räikkönen will race in the NASCAR Cup Series round at Watkins Glen later this year, his first step back into the world of motorsport since his retirement from F1 at the end of the 2021 season.
The Finn will race for Trackhouse Racing in a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on 21st August – the first time he has raced in NASCAR since he drove in one Truck Series and one second tier Nationwide Series (now knows as the Xfinity series) race in 2011.
Those last steps into American oval racing came during the second year of his two-year sabbatical from F1, following his first exit from Ferrari. He also found time to go rallying with Citroën in the WRC alongside his efforts across the pond.
Both previous NASCAR outings were in lower formula at Carolina on an oval, so his 2022 outing will be not only his top-level Cup Series debut, but also his first chance to race a NASCAR stock car on a road course.
The move comes as part of NASCAR’s “Project 91” scheme, a recently launched push to get more internationally recognised racing drivers to take part in NASCAR Cup Series races. The #91 car will be dedicated to these international guest entries.
Talking of his return Räikkönen said: “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.
“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.”
Speaking of the Finn’s move, Trackhouse Racing team owner Justin Marks said: “I’m really excited to launch this year with Kimi Raikkonen. Obviously, the 2007 F1 World Champion and the most experienced F1 driver in history, he’ll really kind of help set this program off. I’m looking forward to it. I’m bullish in our ability to be able to track the global stars of motorsport and do something really special under the Trackhouse brand with Project 91.
“I think that he’s going to perform really, really well. The program is going to be first class. He’s going to have a real opportunity to go out there and compete. This isn’t just a PR stunt. The passion I have is fueled by the vision of someone coming in and winning.”
Räikkönen will be hoping to recreate a little of the magic of his last motorsport victory, when he edged out Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to win the 2018 US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.