Kyle Busch says Kimi Raikkonen was able to reproduce the impressive form he showed pace during his first NASCAR truck test at Gresham Motorsports Park, when he ran again on Thursday during another one-day test at Rockingham Speedway.
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion turned World Rally Championship contender had his NASCAR baptism on Monday with Busch's team. Busch was in attendence to oversee Raikkonen's progress in his Camping World Truck Series squad. Speaking Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway, Busch said Raikkonen set "identical" lap times to the NASCAR star's during the test. He added that the Finn also ran faster expected today on another test they were able to arrange at the one-mile, 25-degree banking of Rockingham in North Carolina.
"The test went really well at Gresham," said Busch. "Kimi is a racecar driver, so he does know how to drive racecars and drive them well.
"I wasn't there until later on in the afternoon on [Monday] and I got to see it first hand. I got in the truck myself and ran some laps to see how I compared to where he was at on tires and stuff and we ran identical lap times, so he's right there – he knows what he's doing.
"They ran another day at Gresham and was kind of getting used to caution laps, running down pit road, watching the lights on the tach and how all that goes. Working on some restart stuff and getting him accustomed to coming up through the gears quick and not spinning the tires on restarts. There's still some things that we'd like to work on a little bit more, but we don't feel like there's any time before he gets back.
"There was another test today, they were in Rockingham with our trucks and he did good again, ran a lot better than we expected to run there – a lot faster than we expected to run there."
"I'm real happy with it. He's off and on his way to Jordan now for the [World Rally Championship] stuff. We wish him the best of luck this weekend."
Busch said following their debut race at Charlotte on May 20 they will review their plans to continue to smooth Raikkonen's NASCAR transition. The former Nationwide Series champion said Raikkonen has asked for advice about teams to race with in the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series in the future, including the possibility of making the step up with Kyle Busch Motorsports, which only competes in trucks currently.
"He has asked after the truck debut in Charlotte, which is what our first focus is, kind of evaluating and seeing where he's at and how he feels and what he wants to do," Busch said. "He has asked about Nationwide and Cup and if Kyle Busch Motorsports could do that or where would be the best place to do that. Like I said, he wants to reevaluate all that once we get past Charlotte."
"... I've told everybody here that [Kyle Busch Motorsports would like to go to Nationwide," Busch added. "We'd like to have a full-time Nationwide team next year and work towards that. In order to work towards that, you'd work towards that this year. If it came to be the right situation and we can get cars built or get cars from JGR [Joe Gibbs Racing], it would all be a tell-tale thing.
"So, we just have to wait and see. Right now our focus is on Charlotte and the truck race there and making sure we get the right stuff under Kimi that he can run well and be good and get some results and some success."