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Jenson Button at the NASCAR Chicago Street Course

Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

Credit: Jared C. Tilton

Jenson Button competed in the first ever NASCAR street race on July 2nd, here’s how the 2009 F1 World Champion performed! An excellent qualifying result saw Jenson Button start the race in P8 on Sunday, a result which has no doubt been helped by his recent performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with fellow NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson sharing the NASCAR Garage No.56 Cup car at Le Mans. This has clearly built Button’s confidence, which was shown in his great qualifying effort.

After a huge amount of rain, the race was subsequently delayed and it looked as if it would go on for another few hours, or potentially even postponed. However, we did get going again and whilst many crashes occurred for the rest of the pack, Button stayed relatively calm and collected, remaining in P8 and making sure to stay on track for the opening stage, without a need for excessive risk.

On Lap 24, Button decided to pit for slick tyres, with the entire field on split strategies. The leaders stayed out on the wet tyres, whilst the other half risked using the slick tyres as the track slowly began to dry out.

After a long caution due to Noah Gragson’s No.42 car going into the tyre barriers for a third time, Button ran in P18 as the second stage came to a close.

The race was then reduced from a 100 lap race, to just 75 laps as they were beginning to race in the fading light.

Credit - Michael Reaves

Many caution periods occurred as the light began to fade, meaning that the running order was constantly moving and ever-changing. The race was honestly just about surviving, as track conditions and the track itself was exceptionally difficult to overtake on, which meant most overtaking was done through cautions and strategy.

As the race went into overtime due to yet another caution, Button managed to fight his way through the field to claim a brilliant P21 after such a difficult race, where he had no data to look through as this was NASCAR’s first ever street circuit race.

But the real celebrations were for Shane van Gisbergen, who is a three-time Aussie Supercars champion. The New Zealander took victory at the Chicago street circuit and this adds him to an elite list of foreign NASCAR Cup Series victors, despite holding off multiple cars attacking him in the overtime.

As van Gisbergen took to burnouts, Button should not be forgotten in this race, an extraordinary show of pace in qualifying especially and simply bad luck during a delayed and shortened race which saw around 10 caution periods. A solid result for the No.15 Button car.

Button has also revealed that in 2023, he will be racing in a range of different series as one-off races. However, for the following year he plans on stepping up to a full-time racing seat in either the World Endurance Championship, IMSA Sportscar Championship or NASCAR. With performances like these, it’s easy to see why he is such a special talent.

But what have you made of Jenson Button’s performances over the past year? Have they been good enough to warrant a full-time seat? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 comment

1 Comment

Jul 04, 2023

Button did well, a good performance. It reminds me though a huge amount of Dario Franchitti's foray into NASCAR. He never really got to grips with the cars, either from a driving style or engineering perspective. Top flight single seater drivers are always trying to get to a near as perfect setup, NASCAR is almost deliberately designed to give the driver at some point in a race or stint a car that is basically horrid to drive, its the beauty of refuelling, track evolution and a 'fairly' basic car. I am not one bit surprised that the Giz went and did a number on them in his first race, a NASCAR is not much more than a small step away…

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