Jenson Button has said he would be willing to try oval racing in NASCAR one day, after confirming his Cup Series debut at the Circuit of The Americas towards the end of the month.
The 2009 Formula 1 World Champion will be joining long-time F1 rival and fellow champion Kimi Raikkonen on the grid in Austin on 26 March, with the Finn returning after a one-off outing at Watkins Glen last season.
For Button, however, this will be a completely new experience for him in racing, having signed up to race at COTA, a new street circuit in Chicago and the Indianapolis road course later in the season – though an oval is not on the agenda for now. But, he would not rule out the notion in future.
“I think we all knew that an oval wouldn’t be a good idea,” he said on FOX’s RaceHub show after his NASCAR debut was announced.
“I would love to do an oval but it’s another skillset altogether. That’s something that maybe I could do in the future, if I like the car and the series, maybe it’s a possibility.”
This first outing is likely to be good preparation for Button’s Garage 56 entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, as he teams up with Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller to race a tuned Chevrolet Camaro in the world-famous endurance race.
The former McLaren and Brawn man will be driving for Rick Ware Racing in his first NASCAR races, however, and Button – who is a big self-confessed fan of Tom Cruise film Days of Thunder – would be open to trying his hand at ovals too beyond this year, if he enjoys road course racing.
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“It’s all down to performance after that, isn’t it?” Button said of carrying on in the series after 2023.
“The reason I’ve got this drive is because of what I’ve done previously, and my relationship with Mobil 1, but if they don’t go well then that doesn’t mean much for my prospects of getting a drive in 2024 for a full season.
“If I like the championship, if I like the car and think it’s fun and enjoyable, and I can be competitive, there’s always that possibility.
“And the circuits we’ve chosen work out really well, they’re the perfect trio. COTA I know, nobody has driven at Chicago – driving one of these around a street course sounds nuts – so it’s the same for all of us. At Indy, it’s different to the track I’m used to, but has some of the same corners.”