Kimi Raikkonen struggled to a 27th place on his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Raikkonen, driving the #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports, suffered a pit road penalty and damage to the front of his car, dropping from 15th to 27th place.
The iceman enjoyed a great run in practice on Thursday and set some competitive lap times. He felt much more comfortable ahead of the race than a week ago when he made his NASCAR debut in the Truck Series.
Raikkonen qualified 22nd despite skimming the wall on his first flying lap, he made early progress despite not being happy with his car’s balance.
“It was nice in the beginning and I could overtake on the restart and it felt really good when [the car] turned,” said Raikkonen. “Then it really it turned out to be really bad, the handling. Just because I couldn’t even get the car in, even I felt I had to stop in the corner and it was just pushing all the time.
Raikkinen also faced heat issues early in the race. He complained that his feet were getting very hot. NASCAR drivers wear heat-isolating heel protectors over their racing shoes, but Raikkinen said he did not wear them because he did not have any issues last week in the Truck race.
Raikkonen is planning to return to Europe to compete in the Rally Acropolis in Greece next month. He is unsure if he will be travelling back to the US for a possible NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut next month.