Jimmie Johnson intrigued with racing IndyCar, sports cars in the future

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After his “mind-blowing” experience driving a Formula One car, Jimmie Johnson said he would be interested in competing in IndyCar and sports car races when he’s done driving NASCAR.

Johnson’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports expires after the 2020 season and he could try other forms of racing then.

“I’ve been approached many times for the Indy 500,” Johnson said Monday after driving a Formula One car as part of a ride swap with Fernando Alonso. “I’m not overly excited about those fast ovals, but I think with my status and relationships, I could put together some road course races in IndyCar.

“I’d look at anything. I’ve done sports car racing in the past. I’ve finished second in the Rolex 24. Would love to get back to doing that. Anything is open. I’m far from done. I want to keep driving and hopefully I can find some good opportunities.”

The 43-year-old Johnson knows age will slow him at some point but he says not yet. 

“Certainly age is a number and at some point it will start to fade on you, but I think most drivers deeper in their career, the workload that goes with it is what they don’t enjoy,” Johnson said. “For whatever reason, I like to work. From training and suffering, the longer the ride, the longer the run, the better I perform. I just really enjoy working. I don’t subscribe to that you get to a certain age and you can’t do it. I think you get to a certain age and it’s hard to stay motivated to put in the time and I don’t feel like I’m there yet.”

Three of the top four drivers in points in IndyCar last year were age 37 or older, led by 38-year-old series champion Scott Dixon. Tony Kanaan, who turns 44 on Dec. 31, will return to A.J. Foyt Racing for his 21st season of open-wheel racing in the U.S.

Johnson’s focus Monday was on driving a 2013 Formula One car around Bahrain International Circuit. Alonso drove one of Johnson’s Cup cars.

“The sensation of speed, clearly the speed is so high,” the seven-time Cup champion said. “The simulator was a really nice experience, great visual aid but to have the wind moving by and your sensation of speed and G-forces, it takes a little while to kind of absorb that and have the newness of that go away and focus on what you’re doing. I felt like every time I went out, my surroundings went slower and it was easier to piece together my braking points.

“Literally my first outing, my helmet was trying to leave my head, and I was staring at the microphone because my helmet was so high. I got my helmet under control and it was really my eyes trying to find their way far enough ahead and far enough around the turns. At the end, I really quit focusing on the braking markers themselves and was able to look at the apex (of the turns) and had an idea of when to hit the brakes and was able to put together some good laps. It was fun.”

Johnson said the experience could help him when NASCAR races on its road course events.

“Just the philosophy of how the use the car under brakes will be really good for me in the road course racing we will do,” he said. “I will start trying to get more out of the car on the straight line and then get off the brakes … and roll the car through the apex.”

Johnson admits “at the end of the day I got a way better swap experience than (Alonso) did. If we could come for a day or two, get our gearing dialed in, do some suspension changes, the proper tire, the (stock car) could have been quite a bit faster. I rode in a car with him at Abu Dhabi on hot laps and then again today and he should be a dirt racer. He loves to be sideways and smoking the tires.”

Johnson said he encouraged Alonso to drive a stock car on a NASCAR track to get the true experience of the car.

“When you can put them on a banked track, they really have the chance to shine,” Johnson said. “Dover, Bristol, even some of the banked mile-and-a-halves, really impressive. We’ll put a little pressure on him to do it. The way he likes to drive things I don’t see why he would say no.”

Johnson was asked if Alonso would do well on NASCAR’s road courses.

“Oh yeah,” Johnson said. “When you look at Juan (Pablo Montoya), when Juan was able to jump in a Cup car, he was fantastic on those tracks. In talking to Dario (Franchitti), in talking to Juan and Danica (Patrick), they don’t drive a car often with oversteer, so I assume that would be something (Alonso) wouldn’t like, but every time I looked he was dead sideways. Maybe he’s the perfect open-wheel driver to go to a stock car.”

Alonso said his focus for the first part of 2019 will be on the select races he will do, including the Indianapolis 500.

Asked if he could imagine what it would be like to drive a stock car at Daytona International Speedway with 39 other cars, Alonso said: “I told Jimmie before, it’s hard to imagine for me now after the feelings I had today with the very low grip and a lot of problems with traction how this car would feel on oval racing because they are no more traction demanding. That I think is a very different way to drive the car.”

Will Alonso jump in a stock car again?

“For now, it’s OK,” he said. “I have now a couple of weeks off but then immediately at the beginning of the year I will be very busy. I don’t want to put any extra tests or thoughts because I really need to charge the battery.”

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Scan All Las Vegas, IndyCar’s Scott Dixon

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty in Stamford, Connecticut. Jeff Burton joins from his garage.

On today’s show:

  • The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are in full swing, but today the focus is on Charlotte for NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day. We’ll hear from playoff drivers Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Elliott Sadler, and others.
  • Five-time IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon joins the show to talk about his most recent title.
  • We review Sunday’s playoff race at Las Vegas that saw hot temperatures, high tempers, and several playoff drivers involved in accidents. It’s the latest edition of Scan All.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: How Las Vegas impacts the championship

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with a look back at the chaotic playoff opener at Las Vegas.

Carolyn Manno and Kyle Petty will be joined by Steve Letarte from Jeff Burton‘s garage.

  • The Monster Energy Series playoffs got underway Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and for the third consecutive week, Brad Keselowski drove his way to victory lane. The win not only secured a spot in the Round of 12 for Keselowski, it also gave team owner Roger Penske his 500th major motorsports victory.
  • Sunday’s race also had several playoff drivers – including championship favorite Kevin Harvick – involved in accidents. We’ll see how those affected the playoff leaderboard as the series heads to Richmond this weekend.
  • Plus, we’ll revisit Saturday’s Xfinity Series race where Ross Chastain gambled on himself and drove to victory lane for the very first time in his NASCAR career. What does this win mean for his future?
  • And, we’ll recap Sunday’s IndyCar Series finale at Sonoma Raceway, where Scott Dixon added to his legend by claiming his fifth championship.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Scott Dixon joins the show live

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN with special guest Scott Dixon.

On today’s show:

  • Four time IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon is live in the studio to discuss chasing another championship, his take on the recent Fernando Alonso and Tony Stewart news, as well as the difference between the real and virtual Pocono raceways.
  • Kasey Kahne announced this would be his final full season in Cup. Nate Ryan will give us the latest on the reigning Brickyard 400 winner’s decision, what it means for the future of the #95 car, and if XFinity points leader Christopher Bell will move into his seat.
  • SiriusXM’s Pete Pistone calls in as we look forward to this weekend’s race at Bristol. Can Kyle Busch win his 3rd straight at Thunder Valley?
  • Go Karts or motorcycles? Ricky Stenhouse Jr talks about his love for riding two wheels on dirt and how one childhood decision changed the outlook of his racing future.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Talladega tumble didn’t slow Jamie McMurray

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So what does one do in the days after tumbling multiple times at Talladega Superspeedway?

Go for a ride.

Not like what Jamie McMurray took a week ago in Cup practice at Talladega, mind you. A different kind of ride.

He went on a 60-mile bike ride Wednesday that featured 8,000 feet of climbing.

“It’s crazy to have a wreck that is that spectacular to watch and that many flips and tumbles and I really didn’t even have a bruise on my body,’’ McMurray said Friday at Dover International Speedway. “I got to look at the car on Monday and it is amazing how much the roll cage was smashed in, but then how everything around me was still perfect. 

“I actually got our whole fab shop and the guys together on Tuesday when I was at the shop to thank everyone. I feel like a lot of times we get our team together to thank for performance and I told them, I’m like this is a completely different meeting: I am thanking you for keeping me safe. … When you have a wreck like that, you are super appreciative of all the attention to detail that NASCAR and the teams put into the cars.”

McMurray also exchanged friendly texts with Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, who competes in IndyCar and had a spectacular crash in last year’s Indianapolis 500.

“He sent me a text to ask if I was okay,’’ McMurray said. “I sent him the laughing emoji back. ‘I’m like ‘I have nothing on you.’ ”

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