Jimmie Johnson 1st NASCAR driver to test positive for coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 44-year-old Johnson is the first driver in any NASCAR series to test positive and the news cast a shadow over the historic NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader races coming up Saturday and Sunday. There was no indication any races would be affected.

Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson will not return until he is cleared by a physician. Has no symptoms, but was tested today after his wife tested positive.

Johnson earlier Friday held a Zoom session with reporters to discuss Sunday’s race and an upcoming test of an Indy car on the road course at the fabled venue. He will now miss that test, as well as what was supposed to be his final Brickyard 400. Justin Allgaier will replace him Sunday in the No. 48 Chevrolet.

Johnson is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the season and was trying to tie Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher as the only five-time winners at Indianapolis.

Johnson has made 663 conscutive Cup Series starts — the longest streak among active drivers — and is currently 12th in the standings, 63 points inside the playoff picture. NASCAR’s rules state a driver must be symptom free and have two negative coronavirus tests in a 24-hour span to return.

Johnson could potentially also miss the Cup race at Kentucky and the All-Star race at Bristol. Next week’s test of the road course at Indy in Scott Dixon’s car has also been scrapped.

NASCAR was one of the first sports to resume competition from the pandemic shutdown and has completed 11 Cup races since its May 17 return. The sanctioning body does not test for coronavirus but participants are required to

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NASCAR and IndyCar collide for racing extravaganza at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — The once-frosty schism between the two biggest racing series in the United States has finally thawed and the result is a blockbuster event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — even without fans.

NASCAR’s elite Cup Series will share a venue with IndyCar on the same weekend for the first time, a doubleheader conveniently forced by the frantic rescheduling required by by the coronavirus pandemic. Even so, it is an important step in putting forth a united front for the sake of motorsports.

“We’re all racers. We want racing to be successful,” said Kevin Harvick, the current NASCAR points leader and a winner at the Brickyard last year. “I know it’s kind of had that stigma for a number of years there’s the IndyCar guys and there’s the NASCAR guys … racers are racers. Everybody wants to see a good race and be part of a cool event.”

The fracture between the two leagues dates to at least 1954 when NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. was allegedly told by IMS security he’d been ordered to leave the speedway. France was already working on his own big race track, Daytona International Speedway, and he vowed it would give Indianapolis a run for its money.

The battle was on and neither side had any desire to build a working relationship. IndyCar, called CART in its heyday, dwarfed the Southern-based stock car series. But the open wheel racing split the mid 1990s in which Tony George created his own series gave NASCAR an opening to capitalize as CART and the Indy Racing League fractured its base. NASCAR exploded in popularity and blew past its bitter rival as the place to race.

As years passed and NASCAR became an annual staple at Indinapolis, the relationship between the two series has improved. Jay Frye, who

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F1 drivers to discuss whether to take a knee at season opener

LONDON — Formula One drivers will discuss taking a knee at the opening race of the delayed season in Austria on Sunday.

“Some of the drivers have already been speaking,” McLaren driver Lando Norris said. “If we are going to do it, we should all do it as a grid. It will be discussed following the drivers’ briefing with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association on Friday.”

The Black Lives Matter movement has been supported by soccer players in Germany, Italy and England taking a knee before and during games.

“We will do whatever we can to show that we care and respect everyone,” Norris said. “We will do what is right when the time comes.”

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has been vocal about Black Lives Matter and F1’s diversity issues.

Like Hamilton, Norris will carry the “End Racism” message on his car this season. The 20-year old driver recently encouraged his social media following to sign petitions following Hamilton’s criticism of his peers for staying silent on the matter.

“I want to do better than any other driver, but everyone should be given the same opportunity and treated the same,” Norris said. “It is not fair that people get treated differently because of their race.

“This sport reaches millions of people and the more we can do as drivers, teams, and as a community in Formula One, the bigger impact we can have.”

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