The 2009 Formula 1 world champion will join seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and former Le Mans overall winner Mike Rockenfeller in driving a modified version of the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 race car, which is this year’s Garage 56 entry in the French endurance classic.
Garage 56 is the entry that the Automobile Club de l’Ouest sets aside for the “technology of tomorrow and beyond” of innovative machinery in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The NASCAR entry is a collaboration of the sanctioning body, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet, IMSA and Goodyear.
“They definitely will like what they see,” Button said of Le Mans fans. “It does look like a Cup car with a few winglets on it. We haven’t put a rear wing on the car because we don’t want it to look that different to (the current) Cup car.
“It does look like a Cup car but I have to say it’s not the same performance as a Cup car. It’s got a lot more power, it’s a lot lighter, it has a lot more downforce – tons more downforce. Around a normal track it’s around 8 to 10 seconds a lap quicker. So, it is faster.”
Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Photo by: Hendrick Motorsports
Among the many visible differences in the Garage 56 entry from the current Next Gen car are the addition of side-view mirrors, working headlights, the addition of stabilizing dive planes and a sturdier front splitter and rear diffuser.
Button, 43, said he’s been most impressed with the sound.
“Cup cars sound insane. It’s just a wonderful sound from that V8 (engine) and I think that is what’s going to blow everyone away,” he said. It’s going to be a fan favorite definitely at Le Mans and it will bring a lot more interest to NASCAR.
“Just like I’m sure Kimi (Raikkonen) racing and myself racing and Jordan Taylor racing brings another fan base to the sport. These are all great things for NASCAR and I really do hope it keeps improving the fan base. It really is a special spectacle.”
Preparing for Le Mans
Since the official announcement last month of Button’s addition to the Garage 56 driver lineup, he has participated in tests of the vehicle on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, Sebring and earlier this week at Circuit of the Americas.
“You always have setbacks during endurance testing but we did a 24-hour test at Sebring and we had one issue, but apart from that everything ran very smoothly,” he said. “A Cup car, they are built very…
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