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March 8, 2023

Trackhouse taps Kimi Räikkönen for return to Project 91 at COTA


Kimi Räikkönen on the grid at Watkins Glen International
Chris Graythen
Getty Images

Trackhouse Racing announced Wednesday that Kimi Räikkönen will drive the team’s No. 91 Chevrolet at the Circuit of The Americas, securing a return engagement with the organization’s Project 91 initiative.

Räikkönen, the Finnish Formula One great, is set for his second NASCAR Cup Series start in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix on March 26 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). His previous entry into the Cup Series came at Watkins Glen International in a 37th-place debut, abbreviated by a midrace crash.

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The Austin, Texas race is the second race for Trackhouse’s Project 91, a third entry that will compete alongside the team’s regulars – Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez. The project was launched last May as a place for international motorsports stars to explore competition in NASCAR’s top series.

“When we announced Kimi last year, I said he was the global superstar I had in mind when we created Project 91,” said Trackhouse team founder Justin Marks. “I think you saw the fan reception across the world, and Kimi’s performance in the car was proof of the concept. Kimi’s following is massive, and it’s great for NASCAR, Trackhouse plus I think Kimi really enjoys our racing.”

Räikkönen, 43, is the 2007 champion of the international Formula One circuit with 21 race wins during the course of 19 seasons. He also made one start in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series in 2011.

MORE: Räikkönen’s journey to inaugural Cup start | What went wrong at Watkins Glen

Räikkönen has a level of familiarity and success at the 3.41-mile Texas circuit, scoring a victory there for Ferrari in 2018 as part of his eight COTA starts.

“Obviously, it’s helpful that I know the track,” Räikkönen said in a video released by the team. “Obviously, an F1 car and NASCAR is slightly different how the track feels when you go around it. So I need to remember that there’s slightly less downforce the first time going out of the pits. That side helps for sure, but obviously, like I said, this is a different car. So the track will be completely different in a way as it feels. I have some experience from last year from that race with the car, so we’ll see.”

Trackhouse is also the most recent winner at COTA, where Chastain notched the first victory of his Cup Series career last March. The triumph was also a breakthrough for Marks’ organization in just its second year of competition.

“As a company, we’ll be coming back with a lot of confidence because we won that race,” Marks said, “but also, now we’ve got three cars instead of two.”

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