Button Ready To ‘Roll With The Punches’ In Cup Debut

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Jenson Button on the Circuit of The Americas race track. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

Ahead of the weekend at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, Jenson Button’s only experience in a next-generation stock car was six days of testing in NASCAR’s Garage 56 entry in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Although it was valuable seat time for the 2009 Formula One champion, the 43-year-old’s sense of competition at Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix will be a new beast.

“We don’t really have that much competition there, so it’s exciting. I get to compete against 30 other crazy people out there,” Button said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge – and it’s definitely a big challenge. Jump in the car for a 50-minute practice session – and that’s it – before heading into qualifying and the race.

Button next to Chase Briscoe in the garage area. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

“I think it’s tough for anyone who isn’t used to big, heavy cars with low downforce. I enjoy the process.”

During Friday’s lone practice of the NASCAR Cup Series at the 3.41-mile street course, Button finished 28th in his #15 Rick Ware Racing Ford and completed 13 laps of the track.

“The team has been great and I’m looking forward to a good, solid weekend,” said Button. “The car felt pretty good out there and I think tomorrow (Saturday) in qualifying – when it really comes down to doing a lap – there’s a little more pressure. We’ll see how it goes. Working with my guys, improving the set-up… yeah, we’re going in the right direction.”

Button qualified 24th out of 39 cars on Saturday afternoon.

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As Team No. 15 continues to fine-tune the setup to Button’s liking, their world-class skills will be on display as Sunday’s event draws nearer.

Although Button’s experience may differ greatly from that of his peers, the RWR driver is up for the challenge despite the lack of seat time.

“Driving is something I’ve done my whole life. So I will be competitive in terms of our race pace,” said Button. “But like you said, it’s the other side where I don’t have experience – and that’s going six abreast into turn one and tapping here and there. As I found in practice here, people don’t back out when they’re on a slow lap and you’re on a fast lap. There’s a lot to learn.

“It’s a very, very different sport than I’m used to. I’ll join in…roll the punches. I look forward to the challenge.”

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