Jenson Button almost had heat exhaustion during his first NASCAR race in Circuit of Americas as Kimi Raikkonen had a troubled run.

In his first NASCAR outing for Rick Ware Racing in tandem with Mobil 1, Button almost retired due to heat exhaustion in his #15 Ford Mustang after starting from the back of the grid. He qualified 24th out of the 39 entries and had a steady race.

He never looked threatening while running at the lower half. But it wasn’t all down to his or car performance, post-race Button revealed about of heat exhaustion, so much that he almost wanted to retire due to not being able to drive properly.

He hung on still to eventually finish 18th despite getting a late whack from former F1 rival Raikkonen, who was in the #91 Chevrolet Camaro for Project 91 team. This was the first of the three races for Button and it was already exhausting for him.

“You get to Turn 1 and everyone is in the way,” said Button to Fox Sports. “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 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.

“I really enjoyed it and the pace was good. And then on the next stint I’d had a whack from Kimi 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. It was so hot. I don’t have a fan in my seat, which really didn’t help me too much. I stopped twice for a minute. They put ice on me, gave me loads of water, and I went back out.

“I was so close to getting out of the car because I thought I was going to faint. I must have drank eight or nine bottles of water during the race. The team kept me calm, and it’s the reason why we got a good result in the end. So, I was happy,” summed up Button. On the other side, Raikkonen did not have heat issues but had late dramas.

The Finn ran as high as fourth at one stage but his pace dropped amid caution and restarts where he used up his tyres. A late spin and a penalty dropped him to 29th eventually after starting from 22nd. “I think it was not too bad, I mean the car behaved on most of the [time] pretty nicely,” he said.

“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.

“I don’t know, nobody knows [about future events], but it’s just a shame how it went in the end but I think we did the right things, we were there… we will see what the future brings, but right now I have no clue,” summed up Raikkonen.

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