The March 26 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in will acquire additional luster with the appearance of former Formula 1 champions Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen.
Button, the 2009 F1 champion, will be driving the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford, supported by Stewart-Haas Racing, and SHR driver Chase Briscoe believes he’ll benefit from Button’s road course expertise.
“Growing up in a town of 3,000 people and one stop light, I would have never thought in a million years I’d race against an F1 guy, let alone two of them in one race–even be teammates with an F1 world champion,” said Briscoe, a native of Mitchell, Ind. “It’s going to be really cool for me to get to experience that, get to know Jenson, and just see how he prepares.
“Truthfully, I think on the road course side, he’s going to be able to bring a lot to the table. Last year, I kind of did that in a driver swap with (Haas F1 drivers) Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen. They only ran like five laps apiece at the (Charlotte) Roval. They were within a second of what I was running at pretty much 100 percent.
“So, those guys are such unbelievable road racers that Jenson is going to bring a lot to the table just as far as things to look for and maximize. I’m really excited for that side of it and the opportunity, because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Button will make his NASCAR debut at COTA before racing on the Chicago street course and the Indianapolis Road Course later in the season.
Raikkonen, who won the 2007 F1 title, has one previous start in each of NASCAR’s top three national series and will compete at COTA as part of Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91. The driver from Finland drove the No. 91 Chevrolet last year in the Cup race at Watkins Glen but was collected in a crash on Lap 45.
“It’s going to be cool to have them out there and be a part of our show,” said Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch. “They’re not used to the full contact sport of what NASCAR is.
“I’m sure Kimi’s eyes were opened quite a bit on how all that went down at Watkins Glen. But he’s more ready and more prepared this time around.”