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F1 champion Jenson Button to make NASCAR Cup debut at COTA

Jenson Button will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at the Circuit of the Americas later this month as the 2009 Formula 1 champion embarks on a planned three-race schedule.

Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang

Button will race the #15 Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang with support from Stewart-Haas Racing at COTA, where he will also face 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen in a third Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.

It will be Button's first appearance in any division of NASCAR and comes a few months ahead of his planned assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Next Gen Cup car prepared by Hendrick Motorsports. There, Button will share the car with Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller as he makes his first attempt at the endurance classic since 2018.

In addition to the Cup Series' first road course race of the season at COTA on 26 March, he will also enter the inaugural Chicago Street Course race on 12 July and before returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on 13 August.

Button was present for all eight grands prix held at Indy between 2000 and 2007, but never finished higher than eighth with Renault in 2002. He qualified third for the infamous 2005 race that all 14 Michelin runners were unable to start after tyre problems in the build-up.

His best finish at COTA from five F1 starts was fifth in 2012.

Since stepping away from F1 full-time at the end of 2016, Button won the 2018 Super GT championship and has contested events in different disciplines, including DTM, British GT and Extreme E. He made his 306th and final appearance replacing Fernando Alonso at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“The reason I was able to stay in Formula 1 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 1.

"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.

Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang

Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang

Photo by: True Speed PR

"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% 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.”

COTA will also feature the NASCAR Cup debut of accomplished sportscar racer Jordan Taylor. The Le Mans class winner and IMSA SportsCar Championship winner will sub for an injured Chase Elliott in the #9 Hendrick Chevrolet. 

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