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Button in Frame for Penske Acura DPi; Multiple Options in IMSA

Jenson Button linked to Penske Acura DPi program for 2018…

Photo: Jamey Price

Jenson Button could make the transition to sports car racing next year, with multiple options on the table for the Formula One star in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including a possible deal with Team Penske and Acura.

The 2009 F1 World Champion, who made his Super GT debut in last weekend’s Suzuka 1000km, has revealed ambitions of returning to full-time competition in 2018, after making only a single start in F1 this year.

Button recently purchased a new home in Los Angeles, which could fuel his desire to compete full-time in North America.

“Several options are being taken into account,” Button said last weekend in Suzuka. “I drew a line on Formula One, where I spent 17 years at. Super GT is one of the possibilities for 2018, as is FIA ​​World Rallycross and the IMSA championship, which is growing with Acura arriving in 2018.

“Le Mans is also still part of the plans. Competition has failed me in recent times and I want, at all costs, to find a competitive environment.”

While Button, who has one year remaining on his contract with McLaren-Honda, has been linked to the new-for-2018 Penske Acura DPi program, United Autosports has also been in discussions with the 37-year-old to join them for its LMP2 effort in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The common link is McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown, who also co-owns the Anglo-American squad.

“We’ve spoken to Jenson and have spoken to a bunch of others,” Brown told Sportscar365. “Jenson is close to the family, so to speak.

“If he wants to do it, we’d love to have him in our car. But he’s yet to decide what he wants to race next year.”

The addition of the F1 veteran to the WeatherTech Championship grid would come as another significant boost for IMSA, which has continued to gain momentium through the introduction of its DPi platform.

Penske has yet to confirm the two full-season drivers for its second Acura ARX-05, on the heels of announcing Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron earlier this month, with Team President Tim Cindric declining to comment on driver speculation. 

While rumors have linked Helio Castroneves to a seat, potentially alongside current Prototype championship leader Ricky Taylor, it’s believed the Brazilian could remain in IndyCar should he win this year’s title, thus opening the door for Button.

“There’s no set deadline at the moment,” Cindric said on confirming the remainder of its lineup. “I think it’s important for us to get the right lineup rather than trying to push things out too early or setting deadlines for ourselves.”

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. john

    August 30, 2017 at 8:46 am

    i was not expecting this, if it happens great move by Penske

  2. Truth

    August 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

    This has been the craziest silly season for IMSA – ever.

  3. Brent

    August 30, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I still don’t see the draw of Ricky Taylor to Penske. He’s a good driver I don’t see him as great. I think there are plenty of other top talent out there who would be a better choice.

  4. Kyle Kelly

    August 30, 2017 at 9:59 am

    That would be a huge get for IMSA. I would love to see Button wheeling one of the Acuras.

    I’m still a bit lost on Ricky Taylor, though. I guess I just don’t see the logic in it from Ricky’s side. He leaves his dad’s team. Then comes back. They are dominating. Now he’d leave again?

    • Slicks in the wet

      August 30, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Honestly, I’d hate to work with my family.
      Love em..but..business? No…

    • Forrest

      August 30, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Driving for Penske in IMSA might be a way into an Indycar ride in the future, or least an Indy 500 drive.

    • Mike S.

      August 31, 2017 at 1:54 am

      Yeah Ricky is good. I still think Penske got it right with Dane Cameron though. Dane has had decent rides but not top tier like Penske. I think he could really show he’s just as good if not better than Ricky now. Didn’t see Button move though. JPM and Dane relationship will be interesting.

  5. solid source

    August 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

    we are talking about driving for Roger PENSKE. Ricky is a HELL of a driver…. and Roger has taken note of that. Gave him a test in an IndyCar and impressed a lot of people.

    If you’re in racing, Penske is the team to be at, period.

  6. Bob

    August 30, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Even more great news for IMSA. Joest & Penske, now Mclaren and others looking at running. All the people who cried every week that Cadillac was going to cause the death of IMSA must feel like total fools. I am sure they will be consistent and immediately predict the end of the world when Penske wins two or three straight next season. Somehow, I doubt it!

    • Slicks in the wet

      August 30, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Lol. Acura hasn’t had a chance to get stomped by BOP proof Caddy. It’s unlikely Joest improves Mazda. Mclaren is a spectre.

      So calm down buddy. IMSA hasn’t proven anything besides interests. Interests are cheap. Actions aren’t.

      • tracer

        August 30, 2017 at 11:49 am

        BOP proof Caddy? Missed Road America, did we?

        Unlikely that Joest will do a better job with Mazda than Speedsource did? Are you f’ing kidding me?

        • Dirk

          August 31, 2017 at 5:51 am

          Attended Road America, There was no reason for the Taylor guys to take any risk during the final half hour, settle for points focus on the championship, …..

      • rissas dad

        August 30, 2017 at 11:58 am

        It starts with interest, doesnt it? WEC certainly doesnt have it right now. Interests are cheap. Penske joining, along with Joest is not a small thing, and its not just interest. They are coming. Is anyone leaving? Not at this point. IMSA has the industries eye, theres no way you will convince anyone thats not a good thing. This is just year two. I’m excited for the future of our little niche sport. If you cant enjoy it, thats on you.

  7. Anonymous

    August 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Didn’t see that coming, but! Given this comes a day after Zak Brown hints at a McLaren DPi entry for 2019, placing a driver who is officially under contract to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2018 isn’t such a crazy idea.

    Go for it McLaren let’s have a DPi in 2019 with Button and Alonso, what a story that would make!

    • Anonymous

      August 30, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      Before someone corrects me I hasten to add that Button is only under contract to race at McLaren if Fernando Alonso walks away from the team at the end of 2017.

      Though Given Hondas performance I wouldn’t put it past him!

  8. NaBUru38

    August 30, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Honda also competes in Global Rallycross. He could attempt both, like Ekstrom does in Europe.

  9. Greg

    August 31, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I can’t believe how ready I am for next season. As a big mazda fan i just hope not to be too disappointed.

  10. Cosmo DeLuca

    August 31, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    So it looks like someone forgot to tell Penske and Jenson Button about this news.

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