NASCAR: 3 drivers who could be next for Trackhouse’s PROJECT91

Kimi Raikkonen, Trackhouse Racing Team, PROJECT91, COTA, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Kimi Raikkonen, Trackhouse Racing Team, PROJECT91, COTA, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /
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Trackhouse Racing Team’s PROJECT91 operation has already been a major success in the NASCAR Cup Series after only three starts.

Last year, Trackhouse Racing Team introduced PROJECT91 as a part-time car to bring international racing stars to the top level of NASCAR, and the goal they set out to achieve has already been reached and surpassed.

In just three races so far, Trackhouse Racing Team co-owner Justin Marks has had 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and three-time Australian V8 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen in the car.

Van Gisbergen pulled off a historic victory on the streets of Chicago, becoming the first driver to win a Cup Series race on debut since Johnny Rutherford won at Daytona International Speedway in 1963. He won the race in dominant fashion.

Raikkonen’s two starts produced poor results, but he did race from the back of the field into the top 10 in the rain at Watkins Glen International last season before being taken out in the bus stop chicane. In his other start at Circuit of the Americas in March, he was in the top 10 again before the NASCAR overtime chaos shuffled him out.

It is unclear when and where the No. 91 Chevrolet will race again. While it would not be a shock to see these two drivers back behind the wheel at some point in the near future, it is looking more likely that a new face will be in that cockpit.

Here are the three possibilities.

Trackhouse PROJECT91 possibilities: No. 1 – Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin instantly became a no-brainer the second that van Gisbergen hit the Chicago Street Course, as he too has experience racing Australian Supercars. Like van Gisbergen, he also has numerous wins and championships in the series and is a legend of the category.

Van Gisbergen’s sensational victory in Chicago showed the obvious talent that drivers from that pool possess. NASCAR Cup cars vs. V8 Supercars on a street circuit are also relatively similar.

McLaughlin has already made a home in the United States and found success in the nation’s top open-wheel division, the NTT IndyCar Series. Through the first two-plus seasons of his IndyCar career with Team Penske, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet has scored four victories along with five other podium finishes.

The New Zealand-born star has shown over the last few years that he can drive anything to its full potential — and that he is a fast learner. His ability to adapt quickly to a completely different style of car and racing in such a short timeframe, all while moving to the other side of the world, shows his capabilities in any machinery.

In just his fourth IndyCar start, he even managed to score a second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in his oval debut. If Trackhouse decide to enter PROJECT91 in an oval event for the first time, McLaughlin would be well-suited for that as well.

If his reaction to his compatriot’s victory in Chicago is anything to go by, McLaughlin is surely willing to consider an attempt at a Kiwi repeat.