Good times for Raikkonen

F1 star's transition to Trucks going well — and fast

April 13, 2011

Get ready for another Formula One star to zip over to NASCAR.

Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One champion, has been testing well in recent runs at the half-mile Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., and at Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina.

He has been so proficient that he reportedly is matching lap times with Kyle Busch. Raikkonen is set to make his NASCAR debut next month in a Trucks Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He recently signed with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

"The test went really well at Gresham," Busch told reporters. "Kimi is a race car driver, so he does know how to drive race cars and drive them well. I got to see it firsthand, and then got to get in the truck myself and run some laps just to kind of see where I compared to where he was at on tires and stuff, and we ran identical lap times. So he's right there, he knows what he's doing."

Although Raikkonen is interested in running some Sprint Cup and Nationwide races, Busch doesn't want to get too far ahead of the plan.

"He has asked after the truck debut in Charlotte, which is what our first focus is, (about) kind of evaluating and seeing where he's at and how he feels and what he wants to do," Busch said.

Assuming Raikkonen's ultimate goal is the Sprint Cup — and there's no reason to think otherwise — he might need to find a ride on another team because Kyle Busch Racing does not have a Cup team. Michael Waltrip Racing has been mentioned as a possible home for Raikkonen.

Fickle Talladega: Want to predict the winner of Sunday's race at Talladega?

Good luck with that.

There have been seven different winners in the last seven races. Talladega's 2.66-mile track does not play favorites. Last year's spring race featured a record 88 lead changes. The second race in October had 87.

There's another twist this week: a probable return to "love bug" pairs racing that played to mixed reviews in the opener at Daytona.

"There's no track that puts on as good of a show for the fans as Talladega," said Michael Waltrip, who will make his 50th Cup start at the track this weekend. "I love everything about the place. I wish I could make 50 more starts there."

Experience the ride: Richard Petty Driving Experience is offering free rides to teenagers 14 to 19 years old. The only stipulation is that an adult must purchase a "ride-along" experience or drive program on the same day.

Ride-alongs are regularly priced from $99 to $135. Teenagers would receive a complimentary three-lap "ride-along." The program will be available at approximately 20 tracks nationwide. For information, visit drivepetty.com/teens-ride-free or call 800-237-3889.

George Diaz

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