Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button are doing NASCAR! | Top Gear
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Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button are doing NASCAR!

The Cup Series race at COTA on 26 March will feature not one, but TWO F1 world champions

Published: 10 Mar 2023

Hold the front page: both Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button will line up on the NASCAR Cup Series grid at Circuit of the Americas later this month. Because why shouldn’t F1 retirement be fun?

The Finn will be making his second appearance in the series in as many seasons, appearing as Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 driver (that’s his car above). Kimi made his debut last year at Watkins Glen where he ran as high as eighth at one stage, before crashing out late on.

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Meanwhile Button will be making his debut, securing a drive with Rick Ware Racing Ford and with two more appearances already pencilled in for the series’ visit to Chicago’s street circuit and Indianapolis’ road course later in 2023.

Don’t forget Button is also set to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in NASCAR machinery in June, driving a modified Chevrolet Camaro Cup car run by Hendrick Motorsports. Yep, that’s the Garage 56 entry sorted.

“Obviously, racing a Cup car is very different than what I’m used to," said Button. "It’s a lot heavier with a lot less power and, basically, no downforce. 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 per cent 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.

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“The most important thing for me is to enjoy it. I want to feel comfortable in the car knowing that I can get as much out of the car in any situation as other people out on track. The result is the result and we’ll see what happens, but I want to get the confidence to brake as late as I’d like, to carry the speed through the high-speed corners, and to be able to race close – wheel-to-wheel with the pack.”

Raikkonen was - as you’d expect - more succinct: “I had a fantastic time in NASCAR,” he said of his previous outing. “There was a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, but everyone was very helpful, the competition was a big challenge.

“This time I get to race on a track I am familiar with so there won’t be as steep of a learning curve. I want to have fun, but also do as well as we can.”

Ah yes, Kimi’s last F1 win came in 2018… at COTA. That’s gotta be a good omen, right?

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