• May 30, 2011
Between the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix – both packed with nail-biting action right to the finish line – there was no lack of excitement for racing fans this Memorial Day weekend. But open wheels weren't the only ones turning yesterday as NASCAR headed back to its heartland at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. And while the top-tier Sprint Cup was the headline event, our eyes were on the second-step Nationwide Series as Kimi Raikkonen made his next step up the stock-car racing ladder in the Top Gear 300.

Following his solid debut last week in the Camping World truck series, the former F1 champion turned rally driver took the next step up, driving the #87 Toyota Camry fielded by NEMCO Motorsports and prepared by the same Kyle Busch Motorsports with the same Perky Jerky sponsorship from his truck debut.

So how'd he do? Not bad. Not amazing, but not bad, considering this was only his second oval-track race, his second outing in a stock car and the first in the Nationwide Series. Kimi was up to fifteenth for much of the race, running on the lead lap and taking advantage of green-flag restarts to gain position. He struggled, however, with the car's front-end handling, as well as heat burning his feet inside the cockpit, and dropped down several laps after a series of disadvantageous trips to the pit lane – one for fresh fuel and rubber, one to remove debris from a crash and another to serve a drive-through penalty.

In the end Raikkonen finished 27th out of 43, running but four laps down on the race leaders. Sprint Cup drivers ended up dominating the race, with Matt Kenseth taking the checkered flag. So what's next for Kimi? Well he's back in the WRC next month for the Acropolis rally in Greece, but there's no telling when he might be back Stateside for more NASCAR action. The Sprint Cup road-course race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, could give Raikkonen a chance to shine, but his team fears there's precious little time to put it together with less than a month to go.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Occams_Cat
      • 3 Years Ago
      You gotta love Kimi! Kimi to pit lane, mid race: "We're so ******* ****, it's unbelievable."
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Kghd
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why do they always have to move to NASCAR?
        Soccer Mom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kghd
        Isn't it because NASCAR is a logical stepping stone between any type of racing and senior citizen scooters?
          Evan McMiller
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Soccer Mom
          David...if you have trouble playing NASCAR video games, I'm sorry you just suck at them. If you think you couldn't handle a stock car in real life, you might want to give up your driver's license. There's plenty of consumer available vehicles that will match what these dinosaurs do. I could buy an M5 and it will go almost as fast, and handle much better than a Nationwide stock car. I'm sorry, stock car racing is not difficult.
          david opanga
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Soccer Mom
          yah i wish senior citizen scooter went 200 plus into a corner like charlotte inchess from the wall on exit ohh yea and doing that side by side at any given moment, that would ROCK!! you try that on iracing or nr2003 im sure you wont crash since its so easy (notice i didnt say try that in real life, would want you wrecking a 300,000+ dollar car now would i) SMH at ignorance...
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not surprised he is doing well. He has talent and seems to be able to drive anything. He's a throwback driver to the likes of Mario and AJ, who could drive anything with wheels.
      eskimo810
      • 3 Years Ago
      cool. now stop before you turn into Mr. Montoya. come back to F1.
      david opanga
      • 3 Years Ago
      haha the things he said on the radio, for those who like me are to lazy to click over to jalopnik here for your reading pleasure :) via topgear.com : "I don't understand how this car can be so hot. My ass is even burning in here!" Kimi decided not to wear heat shields because heat had not been an issue in the truck he raced the week beforehand. It appears it certainly became one. "Why you shouting on the ******* radio?" Water bottle confusion also plagued Raikkonen throughout the race. After a crew member gave Kimi an empty bottle, the crew chief started yelling. Kimi quickly told them to take it off the air. "I am out of the drink again. It's so small. Mark has to make sure it's completely full, because it is too small." As the liquid related chaos continues, it becomes obvious the Iceman just can't get enough to drink. "We're so ******* ****, it's unbelievable." Regardless of his 27th place finish and uncertain racing future it became clear pretty quickly that Kimi certainly sounds like a NASCAR driver. "Did you see how ******* bad it is? I cannot even turn the car into the corner. ..And remember, I need water." As he was about to get lapped, Raikkonen stuck with his pre-existing strategy of asking for more water and complaining about the car. "I need my drinking water. Hey!! Give me my drinking water!!!" Jeff Gluck thinks Kimi might have said "bottle" instead of "water" as he was coming into the pit. We hope his second interpretation was correct because "Give me my drinking bottle" could quickly become the official catchphrase of NASCAR fans worldwide. "You just have to do what you have to do to get fast laps." In response to Kimi's spotter pointing out he is on old tires and his car is handling accordingly. We aren't really sure what it means either. "The car is just so ******* bad (mumble mumble)." Who knows what the mumbles were exactly, but a cry for more drink wouldn't be a bad guess. "The car is **** because I cannot get it turned! It is so frustrating! I cannot get the ******* car turned!" This one does a nice job explaining itself. Full size "Don't talk about other things on the radio" Kimi quickly made it clear after his spotter began discussing an incident on track he didn't want to hear about it. We imagine this was well received in the pits where the crew had been listening to Raikkonen's burning feet complaints and demands for more water the whole race.
      drharoldmannely
      • 3 Years Ago
      I rarely comment on blogs, but must admit I am a bit of a "car blog stalker"-- reading entries but posting only when entries grab me (due to personality, wit or humor). I wanted to comment and say keep up the good work. Wow what an enticing car! Dr. Harold Mannely
      Paul Gozzo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think this kid is going to be good, esepcially if he can dedicate the time and of course, gets good equipment. They say it takes 3 years to learn these cars in any one series, I think he will do well in his second year, running up front, contending consistantly and winning.