Jenson Button open to Le Mans, rallycross after Formula 1

© Getty Images

Jenson Button is open to racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and following in his father’s footsteps by entering rallycross once his Formula 1 career has ended.

Having made his F1 debut back in 2000, Button is now the most experienced driver on the grid, leading to yearly questions about his future in the sport.

The Briton’s career came close to ending in 2014 before McLaren opted to retain him alongside Fernando Alonso, while he was rumored to be set to announce his retirement last autumn, only to extend his contract by another year.

Button conceded that his future will now be a yearly debate, but said that he is still enjoying racing and that he has no fixed idea of when his time in F1 will end.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do in the future. The thing is, when I am working, when I am driving, I am more focused than ever,” Button told NBC Sports.

“That’s never an issue for me, because I want to do the best job for myself – forgetting anyone else, I want to do the best job for myself. And that’s never going to go away. I’ll never just drive around in a racing car. I will only ever race if I love pushing something to the limit and getting something out of it.

“But the future, yeah, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t really thought about. I’ve got some ideas of what I want to do in the future, but I don’t know when that’s going to be, whether that’s 2017 or 2020. Who knows?”

When asked if he would be interested in racing at Le Mans, Button was open to the idea, but spoke more widely about racing in rallycross like his father, John, did in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I’d like to do Le Mans, I would. If it fits in, if it works, if Le Mans is in the right place and if there’s possibilities for me, yeah of course,” Button said.

“I’m a big fan of rallycross, I think it’s a fantastic sport. It’s a sport my Dad used to race in, and I’ve got great memories of hearing his VW Beetle and VW Golf back in the eighties.

“Big fan of it just being outright racing, very mechanical, old school racing. 600 horsepower, madness, you can hit each other, regulations aren’t that strict. I like that.

“I think a lot of people that finish their career in motorsport decide to go down that direction because it’s a bit more relaxed and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Sebastien Loeb has just signed up for FIA Rallycross. It’s an interesting direction for a lot of sportsmen I think in motorsport.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)