Kimi Raikkonen, currently ninth in the World Rally Championship drivers' standings, will enter his first NASCAR Truck Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on 20 May.
The ex-Formula One world champion will drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports alongside his WRC campaign at the wheel of an Ice 1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC.
Raikkonen, who finished seventh overall on Vodafone Rally de Portugal last month, will contest a limited programme of events in 2011 alongside his 10-round WRC campaign as looks to build his experience racing on ovals.
In a statement issued by Busch’s North Carolina-based team, Raikkonen said: “I am really excited to have the opportunity to start my venture into NASCAR with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Kyle is one of the best in NASCAR, and being able to draw on his knowledge will be a valuable asset as I make my transition to a new form of racing. He has put together an experienced team that builds fast race trucks. I look forward to being a part of a team that has proven to be a winner on and off the race track.”
Team boss Busch was thrilled to have secured Raikkonen’s services, adding: “We are honored that Kimi Raikkonen, a former Formula One world drivers’ champion and proven winner, has chosen to start his career in NASCAR with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Adding one of the most talented drivers in the world is a continuation of building a team of proven winners and champions at KBM. I look forward to assisting in Kimi’s transition to NASCAR as both an owner and team-mate.”
Busch reckoned the skills Raikkonen has picked up competing in the WRC would help the Finn adapt to NASCAR, telling Autosport.com: “It will help him because he’s gone from something that’s been the ultimate of downforce and grip [Formula One] to something that is essentially no downforce and no grip - you’re in the air sometimes. We do have a lot of downforce [in NASCAR], but yet we are still slipping and sliding all over the place. You’ve got to figure out how to handle all that.”
Raikkonen returns to WRC action on the Jordan Rally from 14-16 April.
p.s. Rayfields I expect you to go !