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Button to enter NASCAR races at COTA, Chicago and Indianapolis · RaceFans

Button to enter NASCAR races at COTA, Chicago and Indianapolis · RaceFans

Jenson Button will make his debut in the NASCAR Cup championship later this month in his first of three appearances in America’s leading motorsport series.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion will enter the sixth round of the championship at the Circuit of the Americas, home of the United States Grand Prix, on March 26th. Button will take part in two other races away from NASCAR’s oval tracks, at a new street circuit in Chicago on July 2nd and the Indianapolis road course, where he has previously raced, on August 13th.

His Ford Mustang will be run by Rick Ware Racing with support from Stewart-Haas Racing – the latter operation run by the same Gene Haas who owns an F1 team. Button was previously announced as part of the line-up which will compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 11th in a modified NASCAR under the race’s ‘Garage 56’ classification for alternative entries.

The winner of 15 grands prix has tested the Garage 56 machine at Sebring, Daytona and the Circuit of the Americas. He said the experience reassured him he could adapt to the challenge of competing in dramatically different cars to the ones he enjoyed so much success in.

Button’s Ford Mustang NASCAR livery

“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,” said Button. “Then it was like, ‘Hang on, it’s still a race car. It’s got four tyres 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.”

He won’t be the only F1 champion on the grid for this month’s race in Austin. Kimi Raikkonen, who won the title two years before Button, was confirmed as part of Trackhouse Racing’s line-up two days ago.

However Button played down expectations of what he can achieve when he joins a NASCAR field which has featured 36 regular entrants this year.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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