–by Mark Cipolloni–
Ex F1 driver Jenson Button grew up racing in Europe where drivers use their skill to win races, not give opponents body slams or crash them out to win.
So his first NASCAR Cup race at COTA Sunday was a real eye-opener. The 2009 F1 world champion recovered from a poor start to finish 18th.
“You get to turn one and everyone’s in the way and people are braking later than me and they just hit a car and use that to slow down,” Button said. “I have to say I enjoyed about 60 percent of the race, 40 percent of it felt a bit silly [with] the amount we were hitting each other.
“In turn one, I would have an inch overlap and get whacked, luckily it didn’t spin me around and on the exit I gave them a big whack back. The revenge is enjoyable but there’s points when it feels that we could do better. The action is amazing, don’t get me wrong.
“And I have to give it to these guys, the first 10 laps they just destroyed me, left me standing. Every time I was in a corner I had someone overtaking me and I was like ‘This just feels wrong’.”
“I am driving in a race where nothing feels natural,” he added.
“Normally when I race, if I go into a corner a little bit slower, nobody is going to drive on the outside of me because they won’t get there but in a Cup car you can.
“So they’ll go on the outside, put a wheel inside for the next turn and then just push you off so you have to give them room.
“I took a while to learn the race craft, I haven’t raced for three years either, and I’ve never hit a car, not intentionally.”