Kimi Raikkonen is set to have his first stock car test next week, driving for NASCAR star Kyle Busch, who fields a leading outfit in the Camping World Truck Series.
AUTOSPORT reports that the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion is set to drive a Toyota Tundra for the multiple NASCAR race winner and former Nationwide Series champion, who has fielded the No. 18 Truck entry since 2010.
Team officials confirmed contact with Raikkonen and also a test being set for Monday at Gresham Motorsports Park, a half-mile track in Jefferson, Ga., where the former Ferrari and McLaren racer will get his first taste of an oval. Kyle Busch currently holds the NASCAR track record at the venue, set in testing last October.
Kyle Busch Motorsports has won two out of the three Truck races run this year, with Busch taking victory at Phoenix, while Kasey Kahne drove to Victory Lane in the No. 18 truck at Darlington. The squad currently leads the owners' standings, which counts points scored by each truck, regardless of the driver.
"I think that some of these guys from the Formula 1 – or from the open-wheel background, I should say – trying to take a step in NASCAR and see how it is, is pretty neat," said Busch when asked about the prospect of having Raikkonen race in the Truck Series. "It kind of gives a world presence to NASCAR. Everybody thinks that Formula 1 is the world series...I think that NASCAR, as big as it is, a lot of drivers want to see how they can do over here and how they can have a feel for the racecar over here.
"I think it's neat and I hope that he [Raikkonen] gets the things worked out that he wants worked out and that he can come over here and run some Trucks or run whatever he is going to run."
Raikkonen is expected to enter a Truck race next month at Charlotte, taking a different path than other former open-wheel drivers who made their transition into the heavier stock cars. Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Speed and Nelson Piquet first competed on a superspeedway, where handling has a smaller role on performance than at Charlotte. Busch believes, however, that the race at the 1.5-mile oval on May 20 probably fits Raikkonen's World Rally Championship schedule better.
"I reckon most teams are from around Charlotte, so it's probably easier for him to get there," said Busch. "Probably a cheaper route for them to start out in having him as a first race.
"I think most of it has probably got to do with his schedule and what he can do around his rally stuff. I don't know how busy those guys are, I don't pay attention to the rally schedule all that much but maybe that's his only opportunity. I don't know."
The Charlotte event falls in a gap between the WRC's Sardinia and Argentina rounds, taking place a week before the latter.
Raikkonen is expected be the first Finnish driver to compete in NASCAR. His countryman and former F1 racer Mika Salo tested a Sprint Cup car in 2009 but has not been able to get a race drive.