Jenson Button Lets Slip NASCAR Frustrations as F1 Commitment Robs Chicago Street Course Opportunity

Published 01/27/2024, 4:08 AM EST

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It’s no secret that 2023 was a great year for NASCAR’s global image, especially with Garage56 becoming a fan favorite at the 24 Hour of Le Mans. While a lot of that success came thanks to Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports, a big part was played by Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 world champion.

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And even though Button’s claim to fame is the world driver’s championship, the Brit quickly followed in Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen’s footsteps, making appearances in various motorsport categories, including three races in the Cup Series last year. So while the NASCAR community is certainly growing fond of seeing Button in a stock car, unfortunately, an enticing opportunity for 2024 by Mobil 1 came at just the wrong time.

Jenson Button has a full plate

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In 2023, Button immediately felt at home in the Le Mans car prepared by Garage 56, even commenting on how the car would give LMP2 cars a run for their money on the Mulsanne straight. Soon enough, an opportunity with Mobil 1 and Rick Ware Racing landed him a Cup Series challenger for three races in the #15 at COTA, Chicago Street Race, and the Indy Road Course.

Looking to capitalize on the momentum it gained in 2023, Mobil 1 wanted to continue its partnership with Jenson Button. But unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. He was quoted by Motorsport.com as he reflected on his stock car itch, “Well, no, because we never got that result. It was annoying because a couple of times we were quick. We just didn’t get that result, so it was frustrating.

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Jenson Button further added, “I was asked to do a race this year in a really good car, but I just can’t. There’s so much racing to be done and I’m also doing TV work with Sky still, and things with other sponsors, so it’s enough this year. After all, only recently did the Brit state that despite his enjoyment of one-off appearances, he could only perform at peak capacity in a full-time seat.

Owing to his commitments for the 2024 British Grand Prix, Jenson Button had to politely decline the offer by Mobil 1 to go racing at the Chicago Road Course. He added, “If they still want to have me! Mobil 1 offered me the drive this year, so they’re looking for other options, but I couldn’t do the one they offered me [Chicago] as I’m at the British Grand Prix.”

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It’s safe to say the NASCAR community will have to wait in anticipation for Button’s Cup Series return. But while he’s busy at Silverstone during the Chicago Road Course race, if another opportunity swings his way, it could certainly happen sooner than we think. However, when we talk about Button’s full-time racing plans, they seem to be reserved for the World Endurance Championship.

Button’s future lies with the World Endurance Championship

After bidding farewell to the world of Formula 1 in 2017, Button has taken part in a plethora of racing categories. From Super GT, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Baja 1000, Nitro Rallycross, and iconic appearances at the Goodwood Revival. And while Button’s greatest strength lay in open-wheel racing before he retired from full-time F1 contention, the World Endurance Championship has quickly become the next-best destination.

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Despite many fans hoping for Jenson Button to run in the IMSA SportsCar Championship soon, his bid to continue in the WEC will certainly be solidified by his 24 Hours of Daytona debut with Acura this weekend. And continuing along those lines, Button shared, “I don’t want to be jumping around now. I’m 44, I don’t want to be racing for many more years – so I’m fully on it for what I want to achieve in the next couple of years.”

After all, throughout a career as decorative as Button’s, there is only a handful of motorsport experiences left for him to pursue. The Brit summed up his intentions for the future, “I did loads of fun things, but you always come back to what you’re good at. So I think I’m going to be doing WEC for the next couple of years.”

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While Jenson Button will certainly put up a great show for the WEC audience, when we talk about the NASCAR community, they might just have to hold on to their horses for a little longer!

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Written by:

Kabir Bajaj Ahmed

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Kabir Bajaj Ahmed is an F1 & NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Known for his storytelling and extensive research skills, he has covered multiple stories on Dale Earnhard Jr and his legendary dad, allowing readers to relive the thunderous days of 'The Intimidator'. Being a racer himself, Kabir can resonate with the motorsport world better than most.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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