Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One world champion, will join the entry list for the March 26th NASCAR Cup Series event at Circuit of the Americas. On Thursday afternoon, Stewart-Haas Racing and Rick Ware Racing announced that Button will pilot the No. 15 Ford Mustang with sponsorship support from Mobil 1.
If you're keeping score at home, this means there will now be two former F1 world champions in the field at COTA as Kimi Räikkönen was announced as the driver of the No. 91 Trackhouse Racing entry on Wednesday.
In addition to his NASCAR Cup Series debut at COTA, the British racer will also contest the events at the Chicago Street Course on July 2nd and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on August 13th.
The 43-year-old Button is proud to partner with his long-time supporter Mobil 1 for his excursion into American Stock Car racing.
“I won the world championship with Mobil 1, and 14 of my 15 wins in Formula One were with Mobil 1, as well as winning the Super GT championship with them. We’ve had a really close relationship over the years and I can’t think of a better partner,” Button said. “Mobil 1 has been a big part of making these NASCAR races happen for me, so I’m very thankful to them for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to working alongside the brand to get the best out of every race weekend.”
For Mobil 1, the chance to make the legendary Button's debut in NASCAR happen is all about an overall love of motorsports for the company.
“Our love for racing at Mobil 1 runs deep, and we’re proud to compete and play a role in so many different series,” said Jei Gort, Global Motorsports and Sponsorships Manager, on behalf of Mobil 1. “This partnership with Jenson intersects two of racing’s most prominent series – NASCAR and F1 – and we’re very excited to be a part of his pursuit for success in NASCAR’s premier division. Through our collaboration, we aim to further celebrate the love of driving and elevate the passion for motorsports.”
Button, who had 15 Grand Prix victories in his illustrious F1 career knows that NASCAR will be a completely new challenge, but he's ready for it.
“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," Button said. "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 percent 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.”
Button will not be sliding into the NASCAR car cold turkey, as he is one of the drivers on the roster for the Garage 56 entry, which is a slightly modified NASCAR Cup Series car that will compete in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The No. 15 Rick Ware Racing entry was a collaborative effort with Stewart-Haas Racing, much like what was seen a season ago with Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing's reserve driver, Joey Hand, and others piloting the entry for a handful of races.
Photo Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing