March 29, 2011
Who would have thought that the Gilletts would be back in NASCAR so soon? And with a former Formula 1 champion nonetheless.
Kimi Raikkonen's pending arrival to NASCAR would be newsworthy by itself, but it's even bigger given that he's paired with Foster Gillett, George Gillett's son and former managing partner of Gillett Evernham and Richard Petty Motorsports.
If that seems bizarre to you, don't worry. It's bizarre to Ray Evernham too.
I really don't know why Kimi would partner with people who continually fail with sports franchises," Evernham told Auto123.com.
"I don't know how they could leave with so many unpaid bills and return to the sport," Evernham added.
Evernham is currently involved in a lawsuit against George Gillett, saying that he wasn't paid $19 million when the Gilletts entered NASCAR.
Foster Gillett will be the majority owner of ICE1 Motorsports. When the Gilletts owned RPM in 2010, the team's week-to-week future was in serious doubt. After downsizing from four cars to two, RPM survived when George Gillett defaulted on the loan he used to buy the team and investors bought the loan to keep RPM solvent.
Assuming that the team will have cars and cash, Raikkonen's first race will be in the Camping World Truck Series. It's an odd trade of sorts for NASCAR, potentially gaining another Formula 1 champion in Raikkonen just after Narain Karthikeyan went to F1.
"I'm really looking forward to get there to familiarize to the world of NASCAR. I have been following it for a long time. I know, it's a very tough and open top racing series. I just love the American spirit of racing. It feels just great to get involved with that. Obviously, it will be very challenging and great fun for me," Raikkonen assures to Turun Sanomat.
As every rookie Raikkonen will start his NASCAR career with a race in World Camping Truck series. After that Kimi is going to Nationwide and will be adding the Sprint Cup series as well upon successful completion of the NASCAR approval process.
Raikkonen, 31, spent 2010 driving rally cars after parting ways with Ferrari in 2009. In his F1 career he had 18 wins in 156 races and won the 2007 F1 title.
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