Toyota NCWTS Charlotte Notes & Quotes Kimi Raikkonen

TOYOTA NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)  

Kimi Raikkonen — Notes & Quotes Charlotte Motor Speedway — May 20, 2011  

KIMI RAIKKONEN, No. 15 Perky Jerky Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports What attracted you to NASCAR? “Hi everybody.   What brings me here?  I think it’s many, many different reasons for that.  Since I stopped in Formula 1, my interests have always been in many different motorsports.  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.”  

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Where do you expect to go with this NASCAR experience? “I don’t really know.  I don’t have big plans — I don’t have any plans for next year or anything of what I do.  I see how it is because I didn’t have any expectations when I came here.  It’s a bit like when I went to Rally.  I didn’t have much expectation.  I wanted to see how it is.  It’s the same story here.  For sure, it’s a different sport.  Different type of racing than what we have in Europe.  It’s very popular here and maybe it looks easy, but it’s not so easy to be fast.  We’ll see how it goes and what the future will bring.  We go step-by-step and see what happens.”

What has been the biggest challenge in driving the Trucks? “I think from Formula 1 to Rally was a big, big difference.  I think from the Rally coming here is kind of not such a difficult thing than it was from Formula 1 to Rally.  I’m still learning, I haven’t driven — the first time today here.  Wasn’t very good day, but we have to start from somewhere.  Improve hopefully in qualifying and in the race we can do a bit better.  Of course there’s a lot of things to know what you want from the car.  It looks quite similar, the circuits here, but it’s not.  You have to learn all the best things on every circuit and what you can do and the best lines.  That really comes with the knowledge and experience.  We try to survive through the day and try to do the best that we can and hopefully we are much more smarter and we know more things after that.”

Did you practice in traffic today? “Not so much — I didn’t drive.  I hoped to have a little bit more during the practice, but the handling of the car was not what I wanted and at the end it was a bit better.  I’m still not happy, but it would be nice to still have some more practice.  It is what it is and it will be interesting to see how it goes in the race because that is really the first time now that you have some cars beside you and you can go and overtake some guys.  It is a different thing once we go all together in the start and the first laps.  We have to learn it and hopefully it goes smoothly.”

Will you ever return to Formula 1? “There was many reasons why I stopped.  I don’t know if it’s set or if it’s going to be forever.  Right now and after that I wasn’t really missing Formula 1.  I wanted to try other things and I had the perfect opportunity to go and do Rally and learn that.  Now I had time to come here and see how the NASCAR is.  I’m happy how things pan out.  I never really have said that I am never going to go back.  Maybe I will never go or maybe I go.  Only the future will tell.  Like I said before, I have no plans for next year.  I didn’t really have any plans for this year before January.  It might take some time to know exactly what I will do.”

What was the atmosphere like in the garage for you this morning? “It’s been very much what I expected really because I’ve seen one race at the end of last year at Miami.  I knew kind of how it looks at least.  I think it’s a good team for me to come and work with my own racing team.  Like I said, they try to help you as much as they can, but it’s quite difficult to tell you how to drive because you don’t know how to drive the car and people come tell you and try to teach you, but it probably will never be very good results.  People are nice and they try to help wherever they can.  So far it’s been good and today I wanted to be a bit better.  So far, at least we really didn’t destroy anything.”

Which one gives you more fun to drive — Rally car or the NASCAR Truck? “Completely different things.  In here you have a few corners in it, but I think the whole thing changes once the race starts when you have all the 40 cars or something at the same time on a circuit, so it’s a different story than in practice.  Okay, sometimes you have people overtake you, overtake some people, but once you run side-by-side for many laps it’s a different story.  In Rally you have everything, you have snow, gravel , tarmac, every corner is different.  You’re in the middle of the forest usually, so you cannot really compare.  The feeling sometimes is a bit similar, at least it helps to know when the car goes sideways that there is really no need for panic and it’s pretty normal in Rally, but it’s a big difference between from between those two sport.”    

Have you been surprised how friendly people are in NASCAR? “I’m not really surprised.  I think that the whole the feeling in NASCAR comparing to many other sports is different. Comparing to Formula 1, it is definitely more relaxed and more open here.  Rally is so, so much more open and more kind of friendly feeling, so this is more like that, I mean pretty similar.  And for sure in Formula 1 things run slightly different way.  But that’s how they want to do it.  I mean he (Juan Pablo Montoya) was nice to see.  I haven’t seen him in for a long time.  I’ve seen some results from what he has done, but it is not very easy to follow well in Europe so it’s not often that you see them on TV.  It’s really from stuff like that.”

Is NASCAR full-time an option for you or would you consider doing this part time and going back to Rally cars? “I mean I have always planned to do the Rally this year so this is really when I have time, but the NASCAR I wanted to see how it is, how it feels, how I do here.  So I mean if I completely suck here, there’s probably no reason to come back, but hopefully it goes better than today.  I mean, I don’t know yet.  Like I said, we go day-by-day and see how it goes and what comes in the future it comes.  Like I said, I have no plans for next year so it’s too early to think about it.”

What are your future NASCAR plans? “This weekend and then hopefully next week here and then after that there’s no really big plans yet, so hopefully I can get to run some Cup races.  That would be nice.   But there’s not awful lot planning to done and I really don’t want to hurry up in a situation and try to do the best now and see what happens.”

Have you found communication with the team difficult? “Yeah, I mean we tested and I felt how I’m used to and they told what they are used to hear and we found a good solution. And of course sometimes I tell in a way that we used to do in Rally or Formula 1, but it’s not so much different that we don’t understand each other.  I mean, of course there’s lot to learn during the race if you want some changes and to make it most easiest to explain what I need to him, but I think that’s why we’re here – to try to learn the things and do the best that we can.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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