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Jenson Button to enter three NASCAR races starting at Texas

Jenson Button to enter three NASCAR races starting at Texas

Jenson Button will make his NASCAR debut later this month at Circuit of the Americas, the first of three Cup Series races scheduled for the former Formula One world champion.

Button puts two former F1 champions in the field for the March 26 race on the permanent road course in Austin, Texas. Kimi Räikkönen announced Wednesday he’ll race there for Trackhouse Racing.

“Two F1 world champions in a NASCAR race. Who would have ever predicted that?” Button told The Associated Press on Thursday. “A lot of people think I’m crazy for doing this because it’s so different, but that’s why I love the challenge of it. For me, it’s not about how quick the car is, it’s about how close the racing can be.

“In the Cup Series, the racing is awesome. It’s definitely going to be a shock to the system, but a toe in the water, so to speak, and hopefully help me be more competitive the next time I do it.”

Button put together his three-race deal with support from longtime partner Mobil 1, which paired him with Stewart-Haas Racing for marketing and promotional support. Mobil 1 has a longstanding relationship with SHR co-owner Tony Stewart.

Button will drive the No. 15 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing — an arrangement similar to how SHR collaborated with Ware’s team a year ago to run then-reserve driver Ryan Preece in a pair of Cup races.

Button is also scheduled to enter NASCAR’s inaugural street course race, scheduled for downtown Chicago in July, and the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August. Rick Ware Racing will be the listed team for all three of Button’s entries.

Although he’s been announced as one of the drivers for NASCAR’s special entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Button told AP that his three-race road course deal has nothing to do with the Garage 56 project. Instead, he said it stems from a love of NASCAR he is certain developed from watching the movie “Days of Thunder” in 1990.

“I wouldn’t have had NASCAR on the TV in the U.K. We had four channels, and we definitely didn’t have NASCAR,” Button said. “I hate most motorsports movies, but as a 10-year-old, I loved that movie, it was amazing. It was like, ‘This is what I want to be part of!’ But being so far from America, it was never going to be for me.”

Or so he thought.

Button, the 2009 F1 champion, ended his 17-year career after the 2016 season and transitioned into a television role and occasionally raced in various series. He drove sports cars in the Japanese Super GT Series’ GT500 class and won the…

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