‘I had a whack from Kimi…’ - Button reflects on “silly” NASCAR debut

2009 F1 champion Jenson Button has described his debut in American series NASCAR as “a bit silly” as he got to grips with a different style of racing stateside.
‘I had a whack from Kimi…’ - Button reflects on “silly” NASCAR debut

Button made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday, finishing 18th overall.

The British driver was joined by former F1 rival Kimi Raikkonen, who was also in action.

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Raikkonen fared slightly worse, classifying 29th, although the Finn did run close to the top five before a spin.

Reflecting on his own debut, Button admitted that he suffered “heat exhaustion” which hampered his race.

"I had to take a while to learn the racecraft, and I hadn't raced for three years either, and I've never hit a car - intentionally - and then after the first stint, when I changed tyres, I was like, 'Guys put me in clear air, I need some laps on my own', and they did, they did a really good job on the pit stop and I was able to run clear,” he told Fox Sports. “I really enjoyed it and the pace was good.

“And then on the next stint I'd had a whack from Kimi [Raikkonen] and it just felt so oversteery, I just went backwards, and I also had heat exhaustion. I was like 'guys, I have to stop', it was that bad.”

Button conceded that NASCAR’s combative racing system took some time to get used to.

"You get to Turn 1 and everyone is in the way," he added. "People are braking later than me and they just hit a car and use that to slow down! That was the thing for me. It's just, I have to say, I enjoyed the race, I'd say 60% of it; 40% of it kind of felt a bit silly, the amount that we were hitting each other.

‘In Turn 1… I would turn in and get whacked. Luckily it didn't spin me round and on the exit I got a big whack back. The revenge is enjoyable but there's points where it feels that we could do better. I mean the action's amazing, don't get me wrong, I have to give it to these guys. The first 10 laps, it just destroyed me… every time I was in a corner I had someone overtaking me.”

‘I had a whack from Kimi…’ - Button reflects on “silly” NASCAR debut

Raikkonen blamed tyre wear and the elongated race for his fall down the order.

“Yeah, I think it was not too bad, I mean the car behaved on most of the [time] pretty nicely,” the Finn explained to The Podium Finish. “We just got unlucky with a few of the incidents and then got taken out a few times but it's one of those things.

"In the end I just had no tyres left and it kept [wearing] after more restart and more restart. And with the spin that I had, the tyres were just done, but yeah, it's a shame."

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