Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has examined positive for the Corona Virus and can miss this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 44-year-old Johnson is the primary driver in any NASCAR sequence to test positive and the information Friday night forged a shadow over the historic NASCAR-IndyAutomotive doubleheader races arising Saturday and Sunday. There was no indication any races could be affected.
Hendrick Motorsports stated Johnson is not going to return till he’s cleared by a doctor. He was examined earlier Friday after his spouse, Chani, examined positive after experiencing allergy-like signs. Johnson is asymptomatic.
“My first precedence is the well being and security of my family members and my teammates,” Johnson stated. “I’ve by no means missed a race in my Cup profession, however I do know it’s going to be very exhausting to watch from the sidelines after I’m supposed to be on the market competing. Although this example is extraordinarily disappointing, I’m going to come again prepared to win races and put ourselves in playoff competition.”
Johnson earlier Friday held a Zoom session with reporters to focus on Sunday’s race and an upcoming test of an Indy automotive on the highway course on the fabled venue. He will now miss that test, in addition to what was supposed to be his remaining Brickyard 400. Justin Allgaier will exchange him within the No. 48 Chevrolet.
“Jimmie has dealt with this example just like the champion he’s,” stated Rick Hendrick, proprietor of Hendrick Motorsports. “We’re relieved he isn’t displaying signs and that Chani is doing nice, and we all know he’ll be again and prepared to go very quickly. It’s going to be troublesome for him to be out of the automotive and away from his crew, nevertheless it’s the best factor to do for Jimmie and everybody concerned.”
Hendrick Motorsports stated it has applied detailed procedures to defend the well being of its crew members. They embody each day COVID-19 screenings on the crew services; the separation of facility operations and touring personnel; cut up work schedules; stringent face masking and social distancing necessities; and an elevated stage of disinfecting and sanitization of all work areas.
Johnson is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competitors on the finish of the season and was making an attempt to tie Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher as the one five-time winners at Indianapolis.
Johnson has made 663 consecutive Cup Series begins – the longest streak amongst energetic drivers – and is at present 12th within the standings, 63 factors contained in the playoff image. NASCAR’s guidelines state a driver have to be symptom-free and have two detrimental Corona Virus checks in a 24-hour span to return. NASCAR stated it has granted Johnson a playoff waiver.
“Jimmie is a real battle-tested champion, and we want him effectively in his restoration,” the sequence stated.
Johnson may doubtlessly additionally miss the Cup race at Kentucky and the All-Star race at Bristol. Next week’s test of the highway course at Indy in Scott Dixon’s automotive has additionally been scrapped.
NASCAR was one of many first sports activities to resume competitors from the pandemic shutdown and has accomplished 11 Cup races since its May 17 return. The sanctioning physique doesn’t test for Corona Virus however members are required to do a temperature test as they enter the power.
Drivers have been instructed to isolate on the observe and there may be little or no interplay past radio dialog between the competitor and his crew.
Although Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske each stated they’ve had positive checks from shop-based crew members, Johnson is the primary driver. Earlier Friday, Brazilian sports activities automotive driver Felipe Nasr stated he had examined positive and can miss Saturday’s IMSA occasion at Daytona International Speedway.
Johnson earlier Friday mentioned the Indy automotive test scheduled with Chip Ganassi Racing, which he stated was step one in figuring out if precise races are in his future. If he is any good, he stated, he could be open to racing all 12 avenue and highway course occasions on the IndyAutomotive schedule.
Johnson has lengthy stated security issues would hold him from racing on IndyAutomotive oval tracks, however Friday he provided a surprisingly softer stance concerning the Indy 500. IndyAutomotive this yr unveiled its aeroscreen windshield designed to defend the drivers from particles as they sit within the open-air cockpits. Saturday will mark simply the second race with the machine, nevertheless it appeared problem-free final month on the oval at high-speed Texas Motor Speedway.
“Their security on ovals has dramatically elevated this yr with the windscreen. So, I’ll hold an in depth eye on issues there and see how the protection stage appears,” Johnson stated. “I’ve all the time needed to race the Indy 500. I’d have to do a variety of promoting to my spouse to get that move, however my true want proper now could be to simply run the highway programs.”
Johnson has his eye on the road course race in Long Beach, California, a race that was canceled this yr due to the Corona Virus pandemic however is without doubt one of the most storied occasions on the IndyAutomotive calendar at a observe only a couple hours from his native El Cajon.
“When I used to be a child rising up, the closest IndyAutomotive racing for me was at Long Beach so one in all my hopes is that I’m in a position to race at Long Beach,” Johnson stated. “I held on the fence quite a bit as a child watching and dreaming….. There’s a variety of sentimental worth with that race and I hope to race there.”
He is caught in a three-year dropping streak however Hendrick Motorsports has been dramatically improved this season and Johnson has been aggressive. He has additionally been actively prepping for a whirl in an Indy automotive and had been scheduled to test with the McLaren crew earlier than the pandemic.
“It’s a test, it’s a tryout and it’s a two-way avenue. Two-way tryout for the crew to have a look at me and for myself to have a look at a crew,” he stated. “If I’m about 4 seconds off the tempo, then that’s most likely a fast signal that I don’t want to be in one in all these vehicles. If I’m inside a sure period of time and I’ve a superb really feel of the automotive, then for me, I really feel like that’s an vital first step that I would like to know that I might be aggressive.
“I don’t want to go race in any sequence and never be aggressive,” he stated.