Kimi Raikkonen will make select starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season in the Camping World Truck Series. (Photo: AFP)
Fans in attendance at the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 will have a chance to witness history as 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will make his NASCAR debut, May 20, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race will mark the first time in the speedway's 52-year history that a former champion from Formula One, arguably the top open-wheeled series in the world, will compete in a NASCAR event.
The 31-year-old Finnish driver follows in the footsteps of world champions Mario Andretti, Jimmy Clark and Jacques Villeneuve as the only Formula One champions to ever make the transition to NASCAR.
While Andretti competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it was 11 years before he captured the Formula One crown in 1978. Villeneuve won the title in 1997, then went on to compete in 13 NASCAR races across the top three national touring series, but never tested his skills at Charlotte. Clark won two championships in 1963 and 1965, but only made the trip over to the United States for one race at Rockingham Speedway in 1967.
Raikkonen, who is considered to be one of the top drivers in the world, left Formula One and the iconic Ferrari factory team after the 2009 season and has been competing in the World Rally Championship since that time. Now he has teamed up with one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR, Kyle Busch, at Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"We're honored that Kimi has chosen to start his career in NASCAR with us," Busch said earlier this year. "Adding one of the most talented drivers in the world is a continuation of building a team of proven winners and champions at KBM."
Adding to the intrigue of the international star coming over from Europe is the fact that he hand-picked Charlotte Motor Speedway for his first race.
"He was adamant about Charlotte and running that race. It will be good for him to get his feet wet," said Busch.