Former F1 champions Raikkonen and Button race in NASCAR at COTA

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Kimi Raikkonen has already sprayed champagne from the winner’s podium at Circuit of the Americas.

It was 2018, when he wore Ferrari red and took the final victory of his long Formula 1 career at the United States Grand Prix.

The Finn is back in Texas, but in a very different car in a very different series with very different racing styles.

Raikkonen and fellow former F1 champion Jenson Button will drive in NASCAR’s first road race of 2023 on Sunday. Raikkonen won the F1 championship in 2007. England’s Button won it two years later. They have 36 career F1 wins between them.

“It’s nice to be back,” Raikkonen said on Saturday. “It’s a lovely place here in Texas.”

Raikkonen will drive Trackhouse Racing’s Project91 entry which is designed to give a place in NASCAR to drivers from other disciplines. Button will drive the #15 Ford Mustang Mobil 1 for Rick Ware Racing.

Many regular NASCAR drivers welcome Europeans.

Ryan Blaney said he wanted to meet Button because he was a huge fan as a kid. Cup Series leader Joey Logano is impressed that they’re riding in cars that must seem unusual.

“We never get a chance to compete against those guys. They grow up racing completely different cars in different countries,” Logano said. “Put me in an F1 car and I’ll be lost. It’s great for our sport.

And there’s another “road course title” in the field: sports car driver Jordan Taylor makes his NASCAR debut with Hendrick Motorsports. He qualified fourth behind the wheel for the injured Chase Elliott, who is still recovering from a broken tibia in a snowboarding accident.

“Jordan are really strong,” said William Byron, a two-time winner this season who qualified on pole position for Sunday. “It’s impressive. The other guys too.

Some drivers wondered if Taylor and the F1 guys really knew what to expect in the tough Cup Series races.

Raikkonen has some experience in this area. He made his Cup Series debut last season at Watkins Glen and was competitive until he was blown off course in a restart. His race ended with a crash into a tire barrier.

“In F1 open the wheels if you hit someone, you usually lose a part or lose a wheel, you can’t really take that risk… In NASCAR you can have races a bit closer,” Raikkonen said. . “It makes things exciting, I guess, at the end of the races when people can be quite aggressive.”

Button said he was ready for it: “I’m lucky enough to race against 30 other crazy guys there. I’ll take the hits.

Button noticed big differences right away during practice on Friday. First, he forgot how to start the car.

“There were a few other switches I had to put in place,” Button said, laughing to himself.

Then he had to avoid heavy traffic.

“People don’t swerve when they’re on a slow lap, and you’re on a fast lap,” he said.

Button’s NASCAR debut is part of a three-race deal to drive road courses this season. And he is not done changing things. He has already been named one of three drivers for NASCAR’s entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Taylor will be the backup driver and driver trainer for Le Mans.

Button still spends part of the year following F1 as part of Sky Sports’ race coverage.

He said it was his wife, Brittny Ward, who pushed him to try to find a way into NASCAR. She’s American and knew more about NASCAR than F1 when they first met at a dinner party in Los Angeles years ago.

When Button told her he was an F1 driver, Button said she asked, “Is it like NASCAR?”

“I’m like, ‘It’s like NASCAR. It’s so similar you couldn’t tell them apart,” Button said.


Mexican rider Daniel Suarez said he was happy to be racing so close to his home country. He hasn’t seen his mother and sister for several months and both asked the six-hour driver from his hometown of Monterrey to see him.

“It feels like home,” Suarez said. “I have my family here. We also have fast cars. Everything looks good.

Suarez’s win at the road course in Sonoma, Calif., last season made him the first Mexican-born winner at NASCAR’s top tier.


NASCAR has announced that April 5 will be the day Hendrick Motorsports can appeal the largest combined fine by any team in series history. The team was hammered with a total of $400,000 in fines, the suspension of four crew chiefs and the loss of 100 regular season points and 10 playoff points for modifying air deflector parts. at Phoenix Raceway. Pilot HMS Alex Bowman was the Cup Series points leader before his 100 point deduction. He is now 20th.


Ross Chastain took his first Cup series victory at COTA last season and celebrated by smashing a watermelon from the top of his car.

On Friday, Chastain threw fruit from much, much higher: the observation deck at the racetrack’s 251-foot tower. At this height, the fruit hit the pavement with a slap that sounded like a gunshot and practically disintegrated on impact.

He hit the target all four times.

“The key is to imagine someone’s face right there,” said Chastain, third in the standings and 12th-qualified for Sunday’s race. “I’m just not going to say who I imagined.”


Tyler Reddick is the betting favorite to win, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. He’ll start second… Seven-time series champion, Legacy Motor Club owner and driver Jimmie Johnson will make Austin his second start in a 10-race part-time schedule. Johnson called Circuit of the Americas a “bucket list” track for him and said he’s wanted to race here since it opened… IndyCar driver Conor Daly will drive the No. 50 Chevrolet for The Money Team before returning to the open-wheel racing with Ed Carpenter Racing at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2. He is the first pilot to try such a “Texas Two-Step” between the two series.


AP Auto Racing: and


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button