Notebook: Nemechek, Kyle Busch partner for Raikkonen's Nationwide car
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(May 21, 2011)
CONCORD, N.C.—The mystery car sitting in the shop at Kyle Busch Motorsports is a mystery no more.
KBM is partnering with Joe Nemechek's NEMCO Motorsports to put 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen in the No. 87 Toyota for next Saturday's Top Gear 300 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, according to a FoxSports.com report.
KBM owner Kyle Busch dropped hints about the deal after winning Friday night's Camping World Truck Series event at Charlotte . Busch alluded to the car in his shop, acknowledged that it was a Toyota but declined to reveal its provenance.
KBM will assemble the car Raikkonen will drive in his Nationwide debut. NEMCO will provide the transporter, crew (supplemented by KBM), a backup car, and—most important—the owner points that will guarantee Raikkonen a starting spot in the race. The No. 87 currently is 19th in the owner standings, well inside the top 30 (the cutoff for a guaranteed starting spot).
Raikkonen finished 15th, on the lead lap, in his truck series debut Friday night.
Coincidentally, Busch made his Nationwide debut at Charlotte in 2003, driving a No. 87 Chevrolet owned by Joe Nemechek. Busch finished second to Matt Kenseth in the May 24, 2003 Carquest Auto Parts 300.
Keselowski preaches more caution
Kimi Raikkonen is definitely on the NASCAR fast track—but is it too fast?
With one truck series race under his belt, Raikkonen will step up in class next Saturday when he makes his Nationwide debut at Charlotte .
Brad Keselowski, the 2010 Nationwide Series champion, says perhaps Raikkonen should consider a slower learning curve.
" Charlotte 's probably the last place I'd pick to make my Nationwide debut," Keselowski told Sporting News. "It's a very difficult racetrack that changes a lot throughout the race. I think he should run about 15 more truck races before moving up."
Raikkonen, however, is determined to accelerate his NASCAR career, and he'll do so in a No. 87 Toyota owned by Joe Nemechek and assembled by Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Keselowski pointed out that the new Nationwide car introduced full-time to the series this year has widened the gap between the truck and Nationwide series and made the transition more difficult. Given that Raikkonen seems determined to run Nationwide, Keselowski has some pertinent advice.
"It sounds cheesy, but the number one thing is to make sure you run all the laps," Keselowski said. "There's no substitute for track time. Even if you have to lift off (the gas pedal) and find a hole to race in, you need to make sure you finish the race."
Lifting off, however, may be foreign to the Finnish world champion, given that—both on the racetrack and in his career—his attitude is full speed ahead.
Rainout puts Herring on Iowa pole
Because of a rainout of Saturday's time trials, Drew Herring will start on the pole next to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate-for-the-day Michael McDowell in Sunday's Iowa John Deere Dealers 250 Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway.Herring and McDowell are making their first starts, respectively, in the No. 20 and No. 18 JGR Toyotas, which are on the front row as the series leaders in owner points. Under rainout rules, owner points are used to order the field when, as was the case in Iowa , no practice speeds are available.
Austin Dillon will start third beside Carl Edwards in fourth.
With 43 drivers entered in the race, Angela and Amber Cope—starting 34th and 43rd, respectively—will become the first twins ever to compete in the same Nationwide Series race as soon as they take the green flag.
The Copes are the nieces of Derrike Cope, the 1990 Daytona 500 champion.