The NASCAR and Formula One crossover will continue with another new competitor. Jenson Button will take on the Cup Series while making his NASCAR debut.
According to a press release, the 2009 Formula One World Champion will take on three events in 2023. He will make his debut at Circuit of the Americas on March 26 while driving the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang. Button will then compete in the Chicago Street Race on July 2 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on August 13.
Stewart-Haas Racing will facilitate the marketing and promotional support as longtime partner Mobil 1 comes on board as Button’s primary sponsor for the three-race schedule.
“It’s always a challenge to try a new racing discipline, and the best thing you can bring to a new opportunity like this is an open mind,” Tony Stewart said in a press release. “Jenson has been doing that his entire career. Those F1 cars evolve every year, and Jenson always found a way to adapt. And when he got out of F1, he jumped into sports cars and won another championship. He’s even done off-road.
“There’s very little that he hasn’t experienced in a racecar. He’s new to NASCAR, but he’s not new to racing. This is going to be fun for all of us, and we’re very appreciative of Mobil 1 for making it happen.”
Button Has Some Next Gen Experience
Button made 306 starts during his Formula One career, and he won 15 grand prixs. This includes six in the 2009 season as he won the championship.
Since retiring from F1 after the 2017 season, Button has tested himself with a variety of racing challenges. He competed in the Super GT Series in Japan, took on the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and ran in both the Mint 400 and Baja 1000 off-road races.
Button also has some NASCAR-adjacent experience. He is part of the three-driver lineup for the Garage 56 entry that will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has tested out the Hendrick Motorsports-built Chevrolet Camaro at Sebring International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, and Circuit of the Americas.
“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 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.
“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.”
Button will now join multiple other guest drivers at Circuit of the Americas. Garage 56 coach/backup driver Jordan Taylor will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports while 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will drive the No. 91 Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing. IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly will drive the No. 50 Chevrolet for TMT Racing.
Button Will Have Extra Time To Prepare
While Button has some experience in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, he does not have time in an actual Next Gen Cup Series car. That will end during the trip to Circuit of the Americas.
Button’s debut will take place during a weekend when NASCAR makes an adjustment to the schedule. The sanctioning body announced on March 9 that there will now be an extended practice session on Friday, March 24, so that the drivers can adjust to the new aero package.
This extended session means that Button will have 50 minutes to take laps around the Texas road course. He already has experience at the track after making five starts in F1, but he will get some much-needed seat time in the Cup Series car. He will then head back to COTA the following morning and prepare for his first NASCAR qualifying session.