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Kimi Raikkonen has the thrills - but not paying the bills

Kimi Raikkonen (left) talks with Kyle Busch in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kimi Raikkonen (left) talks with Kyle Busch in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

CONCORD, N.C. - The mystery that is Kimi Raikkonen's foray into NASCAR took two strange turns this week.

On Wednesday, Raikkonen drove - and damaged - a Sprint Cup car in a test at Virginia International Raceway, where many NASCAR teams practice to get ready for road-course races. Raikkonen was driving Robby Gordon's car, leading to speculation that Raikkonen, a former Formula One champion, would make his Sprint Cup debut at Infineon Raceway on June 26.

That would be quite an accelerated timetable for a guy who had never driven a Nationwide car until Thursday in that series' practice in preparation for Saturday's Top Gear 300 at Charlotte.

But he's considered a world-class driver with a wealth of experience on road courses, as opposed to most Sprint Cup newbies who have never or rarely had to turn right. He has yet to commit full time to NASCAR; he's still running a Rally car series in Europe.

 

"It would be nice to go and do (Infineon), but I don't know if it's going to happen or not," he said. "We'll see what happens this weekend. I have to go back and do my Rally (car) stuff, and we'll see."

In the test at VIR, Raikkonen drove through the grass, hit a hole and "destroyed the front a bit."

Raikkonen, who made his NASCAR debut last week in the Camping World Truck Series, was expected to run three to five races for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

But that has been cut back because Raikkonen hasn't been paying his bills to KBM, Busch said Thursday.

"What's changed is the payment schedule," Busch said. "The contract states that we're supposed to receive so much and we have not. We've only received enough for these two races. It's either up to Kimi or up to the financial people that run Kimi's business side of things and decide that they need to find the sponsorship funds in order to carry the experience for him further."

It's common for drivers trying to break in to NASCAR to pay a team to field a car for them. It is not common for an owner to publicly say one of the world's most renowned racing talents has not paid. That he isn't paying his bills is baffling considering he was once the highest paid driver in F1 at a reported $51 million per year.