Kimi Raikkonen may get N'wide ride

Updated: May 21, 2011, 7:12 PM ET
By David Newton |

CONCORD, N.C. -- Joe Nemechek is working on a deal to put former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen in a Nationwide Series car under his team's name next Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Raikkonen made his NASCAR debut in Friday night's Truck Series race for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finishing 15th. He alluded to the possibility of running in the Nationwide race, and Busch acknowledged that a car was in his shop even though he doesn't have a Nationwide license to run one.

Nemechek, who also fields Toyotas, does. He said there is a 50-50 chance Raikkonen will drive under his team's name.

"We are working on something,'' Nemechek said after the driver's meeting for Saturday night's All-Star race and Sprint Showdown. "Hopefully, we'll know something by Monday."

Raikkonen said he had fun in the Trucks race even though he got off to a rough start, hitting the wall.

"I hit much harder and destroyed the car a little bit," the 2007 F-1 champion said. "The car actually ran really well there before the pit stop. Once we got to the pit then the tires and the tire pressure, it was better.

"For sure, there is still a lot to learn and improve, but I think when we have another race it will be better."

Asked if he would run in the Nationwide race at Charlotte, Raikkonen said, "We'll see."

There also is speculation Raikkonen will make his Sprint Cup debut next month at the road course in Sonoma, Calif.

Sprint Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya, Raikkonen's F-1 teammate at McLaren until he left in 2006, said the Finnish driver needs to move to the United States and get in a Cup ride if he plans to make a commitment to NASCAR.

"If he's going to do it, he's got to do Cup like I did," Montoya said. "He's not a young guy who needs experience."

David Newton covers NASCAR for He can be reached at

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter