F1 champ closing in on switch to NASCAR
Kimi Raikkonen is reportedly testing a truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga. on Monday.
Team sources confirmed a test had been scheduled for Monday but would not acknowledge the former Formula One World Champion was one of the drivers participating at the half-mile track.
Nevertheless, Kyle Busch said Friday he thought it was “cool” that Raikkonen was considering NASCAR.
“I think that some of these guys from the Formula One, or from the open wheel background I should say, trying to take a step in NASCAR and see how it is pretty neat,” Busch said. “It kind of gives a world presence to NASCAR. Everybody thinks that Formula 1 is the World Series — I don’t mean that in baseball terms I just mean that in the racing world globe.
“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 race car over here. I think it’s neat and I hope that (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.”
From Juan Pablo Montoya’s perspective, NASCAR does not always receive the respect it deserves internationally. But the former Formula One racer acknowledges “people are watching.”
“Over the last few years when I came over people started paying attention to how I ran, and I think a lot of people got hooked on it,” Montoya said. “I still receive emails from people from Formula One, good luck in the race, great qualifying. It’s like ‘Oh, you’re paying attention. That is surprising.’
“People in Formula One are very selfish. They think there is nothing better out there. You look from technology wise, there’s not. But the actual racing, this is exciting. It’s exciting to watch, it’s exciting to be here. When you hear about ovals and sometimes you watch them, the first time you watch it by yourself, oh yeah it’s a circle. But if you come and actually see how fast we’re going in real life, they go oh yeah that’s a lot faster than people think it is.”
Although Raikkonen has already been approved by NASCAR to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Montoya, who is now in his fifth Sprint Cup season, says the 1.5-miler would not by his “first choice” for a debut venue.
Busch believes the site was chosen due to the close proximity to most of NASCAR’s race teams.
“Probably a cheaper route for them to start out in having him as a first race,” Busch said. “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.”
Kevin Harvick is known as the resident prankster in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
So what big plans did he have for April Fools' Day other than putting a picture of his assistant Josh Jones in a elf suit on a billboard on Interstate 40 in North Carolina?
“I’m slacking today,” Harvick said. “I’m looking to come up with something for the day, and on who it is, I don’t know. Surely by the end of the day I will be able to think of something."
Harvick had his hands full with practicing both his Sprint Cup car for Richard Childress Racing and his own truck for Kevin Harvick Inc.
Still, Harvick's list of trickery is long.
"There’s a lot of things that we’ve done," Harvick said. "I don’t remember exactly what day it was on but we’ve crushed people’s cars, we’ve filled their cars up with bouncy balls, we’ve put crap in their office, we’ve done all kinds of things. Just never know what’s coming.
“We crushed (wife) DeLana’s Aunt’s car with a Monster Truck one day while they were at lunch. When she came back around the corner we had a monster truck in the field, and we crushed her car. That was pretty fun. It was like a 1988 Bonneville. She would have never gotten rid of it. But we cleaned it out for her. We made her cry, but that’s all right. We did give her a new car. We didn’t tell her that for a while though. No, I didn’t have no mercy — that was the whole point of it. I didn’t really think she was going to cry.”
Harvick replaced the Bonneville with a brand new Chevrolet Impala.
Some race teams were having difficulty with the right rear tires at Martinsvillle Speedway on Friday.
Chunks of rubber were accumulating off the tires onto the track, and the surface was not “rubbering up” similar to the situation that occurred on the concrete at Bristol Motor Speedway two weeks ago. The sensation was described as “like riding on marbles”.
Both the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series drivers are running the same tires, but the Goodyear Eagles are branded as Wranglers in the truck tour.
A crew chief for a truck team, who requested anonymity, said he’s “worried” about the situation because the “right front tires were (showing cords) and the right rears were just worn out.”
Goodyear’s Greg Stucker said the situation was “a combination of the right rears (tires) being softer and the cooler temperatures.”
“It’s a slightly different setup from the last time,” Stucker said. “So it’s taking longer to adapt to.”
Goodyear introduced this tire combination this weekend. The left-side featured a tougher compound. The right sides were softer to provide additional grip.