Raikkonen Needs To Pay Up To Keep Running, Busch Says
Concord, N.C. – One week after Kimi Raikkonen made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series, the former Formula One champion set his sights on the Nationwide Series, however, this weekend’s Top Gear 300 could be the Finland native’s last NASCAR event due to non-payment to Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Busch, who originally said Raikkonen would run three to five races with his organization, told the media Thursday the contract stated “we’re supposed to receive so much and we have not”.
“We’ve only received enough for these two races,” Busch said. “It’s either up to Kimi (Raikkonen) or up to the financial people that run Kimi’s business side of things and decide that they need to find the sponsorship funds in order to carry the experience for him further.”
This weekend’s Nationwide Series effort is a joint venture between Kyle Busch Motorsports and NEMCO Motorsports, which is owned by NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek and his wife, Andrea. For the Top Gear 300, Andrea Nemechek is listed as Raikkonen’s car owner and Rick Ren, KBM’s general manager, is the crew chief.
“He’s (Ren) bit the bullet an awful lot in these past few weeks in putting this deal together,” Busch said. “We’ve done this before for some of our various technical alliances that we have such as VAR [Vision Aviation Racing]. We build turn-key trucks. All they have to do is put a motor, transmission and driveshaft in it and go to the race track. Kyle Busch Motorsports chassis has the availability to do that. We don’t like to, but we can. Certainly, we feel like we built a top quality piece and we’ll see how it runs here this afternoon in the Nationwide Series for our first outing in building a car for NEMCO Motorsports.”
In reviewing Raikkonen’s performance in the truck series, Busch said the world driving champion “did a nice job.”
“Certainly, he gave the truck a good ride,” Busch continued. “It was really loose and he did a nice job with car control and everything else. What’s to be expected of him this weekend is certainly to just again try to run all the laps, try to make 300 miles in a Nationwide Series race, get a feel for what the car is like.”
Raikkonen said he learned “quite a bit” in last weekend’s truck race.
“Destroyed the car a little bit hitting the walls quite a few times,” Raikkonen said. “I had no idea what I should do. I know how to do restarts, but I didn’t know exactly how it goes. It’s much easier now, the second time.”
Raikkonen has expressed an interest in competing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, preferably on a road course. However, he admitted he didn’t know if it would happen.
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