Jenson Button Will Race NASCAR Ford Mustang at COTA, Chicago, Indy

The 2009 F1 champ says he's taking his sojourn into stock car racing with the utmost seriousness—he's here to win, if he can.
Rick Ware Racing

Formula 1 champion Jenson Button will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at this year’s Circuit of the Americas race on the weekend of March 26.

The 2009 world drivers’ champion and 15-time F1 Grand Prix winner will drive a trio of road course races in the No. 15 Ford Mustang operated by Rick Ware Racing. Button will also race the car on the Chicago street course on June 2 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on August 13.

“Obviously, racing a Cup car is very different than what I’m used to,” Button said. “It’s a lot heavier with a lot less power and, basically, no downforce. It’s got a sequential gearbox where you need to blip the throttle, so there’s lots of stuff to learn in a very short space of time.

“But I just get excited about that new challenge, and when I throw myself into something, I am 100 percent in. I’m not just doing it for fun in some one-off. I want to be competitive, and I know that to be competitive, it’s going to take a bit of time. That’s why doing these three races works very well this season.”

Button will also race the modified Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro stock car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one week after the Chicago race. He’ll share the car with seven-time Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller, the 2010 Le Mans winner and 2013 DTM champion. Button got his paws on the altered Cup car earlier this week at COTA, which he initially found daunting but quickly came to grips with.

“The first time I jumped into the Garage 56 car, it was like, ‘what have I done? This is so different,’ and that lasted about four laps,” Button said. “Then it was like, ‘hang on, it’s still a race car. It’s got four tires that touch the road. It’s a mechanical race car, which is even better for learning.’ I’ve really enjoyed the challenge.

“A Cup car has a lot less downforce and is a lot heavier, but the Garage 56 car has given me an idea of what it will be like along with a direction, which is really useful. I know in my first race I’m not expected to be qualifying right at the front and I’m not expected to be fighting for a victory. I have a lot of respect for the drivers racing in the Cup Series. There’s so much talent there, whether it’s on ovals or road courses.”

The Garage 56 entry will be only one of a broad field of American entries in this year’s Le Mans enduro. It will be kept company by Cadillac’s prototypes, one from Glickenhaus, and Corvette Racing’s C8.R.

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