The COTA race will mark Jenson Button’s NASCAR Cup debut

Jenson Button NASCAR Cup debut at COTA

Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 world champion, will mark his NASCAR Cup Series start at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the coming weeks and wants to compete in three races this season.

Jenson Button NASCAR Cup debut at COTA

The No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang will be driven by Button, 43, with backup from Stewart-Haas Racing. The main sponsor of the automobile will be Mobil 1.

Kimi Raikkonen, the world champion in Formula One in 2007, will compete at COTA in a third car for Trackhouse Racing.

Button will drive at the COTA event on March 26 as well as the races on July 2 at the Chicago Street Circuit and August 13 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Button will make his NASCAR debut at COTA, which is just a few months before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he will share a Next Gen Cup vehicle with Jimmie Johnson and Michael Rockenfeller that has been modified. Hendrick Motorsports is preparing that car.

“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. Then it was like, ‘Hang on, it’s still a racecar. It’s got four tires that touch the road. It’s a mechanical racecar, which is even better for learning.’ I’ve really enjoyed the challenge,” said Button, who has now tested the Garage 56 car at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and earlier this week at COTA.

“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.

“Ten years ago, people used to say NASCAR guys can’t drive around a circuit, but I think they’ve proven that they can. Every time an ex-F1 driver gets in a stock car these days, they struggle initially. It takes a while for them to get up to speed, so I don’t expect to be right at the front, straight away. That’s why, for me, doing more than one race is really key so I can get the best out of myself and the best out of the car.”

Button has made 306 Formula 1 starts and has 15 victories, 50 podium finishes, and 8 pole positions to his name. His most recent start occurred in the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix while he was competing in the Indy 500. He filled in for Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

He won the GT500 class of the 2018 Super GT championship after leaving Formula One.

“The reason I was able to stay in Formula One for so long was because I always felt I was learning,” said Button. “There was always something new in terms of technologies, or I could still improve my driving or engineering skills within Formula One. When I got to my 17th year in F1, I felt like I lost that hunger a little bit because it wasn’t new anymore. There wasn’t something new to learn.

“Stepping away from F1 gave me the opportunity to try different series that excited me. I raced Super GT in Japan. I raced at Le Mans. I raced off-road because it was another skill to learn. You put yourself in a slightly vulnerable position because it’s not your complete skill set, and there’s still more to learn to be as good as the best. I love that challenge of driving new things. It’s slightly out of my comfort zone, and I found that out with off-road trucks.

“Obviously, racing a Cup car is very different than what I’m used to. 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.”

The top sports car driver Jordan Taylor will make his NASCAR Cup debut at COTA. Taylor will take the No. 9 HMS Chevrolet for an injured Chase Elliott.

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Nascar, NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity, Jenson Button, Circuit of the Americas, COTA, Rick Ware Racing, Ford

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