Button reveals ‘insane’ inspiration behind NASCAR debut

Jenson Button has revealed Days of Thunder as the inspiration behind his forthcoming NASCAR drive

Jenson Button has revealed Days of Thunder as the inspiration behind his forthcoming NASCAR drive

Jenson Button has revealed the inspiration behind his decision to make a debut in NASCAR this season.

The 2009 F1 champion is to compete in three Cup Series events for Rick Ware Racing Ford, initially at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 26.

That will be followed by races at the Chicago Street Course on July 2 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Race Course on August 13.

It seems Button’s pursuit of a NASCAR drive has been 33 years in the making as he was 10 when he was fuelled by watching Days of Thunder with Tom Cruise.

Asked as to what compelled him to pursue a NASCAR drive, speaking to selected media including Speedcafe, the 43-year-old said: “For a very long time I have watched NASCAR, a couple of decades.

“And I have to say, growing up in the UK, we had four channels back in the late ’80s, and we didn’t get any real sport outside of European sport.

“So you’re going to like this – it was actually Days of Thunder that first of all brought me to NASCAR because it was the first time I got to see any NASCAR.

“It was a movie and I thought it was insane, I thought it was amazing, worlds away from European motorsport.

“But that kind of got me in the door of liking NASCAR and I used to watch it with my old man (father John Button).”

Button fuelled by “difficult” racing

Given Button’s typical route into motorsport via karting, and in those days British Formula Ford and British Formula 3 before getting into F1, NASCAR naturally dropped off his radar.

With time and opportunity now on his side, the passion for trying his hand at a very different type of motorsport has been rekindled.

“It is so different to what I am used to, and I think that’s probably what stopped me from asking the question as to whether I would be able to race in NASCAR, because it is so different to anything I have driven before,” he added.

“And back then, it was more ovals, there weren’t really any street courses so that didn’t excite me so much because it is another skillset altogether.

“But now there are more road courses, it is definitely more enticing and also, I think I will be more competitive.

“I’ve watched the races and I’ve seen the new guys coming in who have experience in road-course racing and they don’t find it easy. It is very difficult, but that is part of the challenge and why I’m excited about it.”

“Possibility” of a full-time drive

Button feels that should he prove himself in the three races this year then it could lead to a permanent place on the grid in the near future.

“There’s always a possibility,” suggested Button. “The reason why I’ve got the drive is because of what I’ve done previously and my relationship with Mobil 1.

“If they don’t go well, then it’s not going to go well for 2024 in terms of getting a drive for a full season.

“If I like the championship, if I like the car, if I think it’s fun and enjoyable and I can be competitive, there’s always that possibility.

“But as I said, it’s a lot of learning in a very different way than I’m used to.”

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