Jimmie Johnson discusses his positive COVID-19 test

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NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson discusses testing constructive for COVID-19.

Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS — Nothing about Jimmie Johnson’s final full season in NASCAR has been regular.

In quest of his first victory within the Cup sequence since 2017, Johnson popped up at IndyCar’s Open Take a look at throughout Daytona week, noticed his sport go on pause for 2 months due to a pandemic and has been scheduled to check for 2 totally different IndyCar groups.

This weekend, he was vying to become just the third driver throughout any racing circuit to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 5 occasions, becoming a member of Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher.

However Friday’s news that he had contracted COVID-19, forcing him to overlook probably his last Brickyard 400 to be held Sunday at IMS, was an all-too-jarring reminder to the auto racing neighborhood of the present-day realities.

Well being and family members should come earlier than racing ultimately — even for NASCAR’s Ironman who was the sequence’ lively chief in consecutive begins at 663 coming into this weekend, having by no means missed a race because the begin of his Cup sequence profession in 2002.

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“2020 has been fascinating, there’s little doubt about it,” Johnson stated Saturday morning in a Zoom convention name with media. “I might be down and out about my scenario, but when I activate the information and see how this virus is impacting so many others, rapidly I’m grateful that I’m asymptomatic and don’t have every other points.”

Friday morning, Johnson was on a convention name with racing media to discuss his recently-announced IndyCar test, scheduled for Wednesday on the IMS street course with Chip Ganassi Racing. It was his second such deliberate take a look at this 12 months, after he confirmed up at Circuit of the Americas in Austin in February as a visitor of Arrow McLaren SP. Weeks later, he introduced a deliberate take a look at with the workforce in April at Barber, which was canceled resulting from a stop in testing whereas IndyCar sat idle for greater than two months.

However his life took a stunning flip not lengthy after that teleconference, as his spouse Chandra obtained constructive take a look at outcomes for COVID-19 after experiencing allergy-like signs earlier within the week. Johnson stated that, out of an abundance of warning, his spouse went to the hospital days in the past to bear a take a look at. Johnson then scrambled to get a quick-results test himself and was told he was positive.

His two daughters, ages 9 and 6, have examined unfavourable. Presently, the household resides in Aspen, Colo.

“My greatest concern proper now’s for my youngsters,” he stated. “In fact we’re being very accountable proper now, at house, attempting to self-isolate, however on the similar time, attempting to dad or mum. That’s a very difficult hurdle, attempting to type out proper now, whereas managing their fears.

“They will’t come round Mother and Dad, and we’ve received to feed them and, on the similar time, are involved about passing on the virus. We’re attempting to be as wholesome as we are able to, however I’m heartbroken seeing the fears of their eyes watching them attempt to handle what’s occurring proper now.”

He’s the primary NASCAR driver to check constructive for the virus after Stewart-Haas Racing and Workforce Penske each introduced weeks in the past that shop-based workforce members had examined constructive.

In his place, Hendrick Motorsports introduced Xfinity sequence driver Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 Chevy Camaro on Sunday on the IMS oval, and Johnson gained’t be allowed to return to the cockpit till he’s cleared by a doctor. NASCAR’s guidelines state a driver should by symptom-free and obtain a pair of unfavourable COVID-19 exams inside a 24-hour span earlier than they’re allowed to return to the grid.

Although the sequence hasn’t actively examined its drivers for the virus within the 11 races since its return Might 17, contributors have been present process frequent temperature checks after they enter race services.

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The Hendrick Motorsports workforce additionally introduced Friday one touring member of Johnson’s workforce was directed to self-quarantine resulting from “shut contact” with Johnson not too long ago.

“Jimmie has dealt with this case just like the champion he’s,” workforce proprietor Rick Hendrick stated in a press launch Friday. “We’re relieved he isn’t displaying signs and that (Chandra) is doing nice, and we all know he’ll be again and able to go very quickly.

“It’s going to be troublesome for him to be out of the automotive and away from his workforce, nevertheless it’s the appropriate factor to do for Jimmie and everybody concerned.”

Johnson stated that within the final couple weeks, he’s solely been on the race observe — together with final weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono — together with a fast journey to Charlotte 8-10 days in the past, and a one-day journey to Indianapolis final Thursday. Whereas in Indy, he stepped into the Dallara simulator forward of his proposed take a look at subsequent week, and he was additionally within the CGR store for a seat-fitting and quick assembly. There, he stated he interacted with 2-Four folks in a small room.

Moreover, a CGR workforce supply informed The Indianapolis Star that, although Johnson’s deliberate IndyCar take a look at with the workforce has been shelved in the intervening time, it’s too early to say whether or not the take a look at will likely be postponed, rescheduled or canceled utterly.

Johnson stated Friday he had preliminary conversations with an abundance of groups across the IndyCar paddock about a potential future in American open-wheel racing following the end of his full-time stock car career and, if an preliminary take a look at went nicely, can be open to doing as many as all of the street and avenue programs the sequence at the moment runs.

And with the addition of the aeroscreen protecting gadget, he was nonetheless toying with a run within the Indianapolis 500, barring getting the OK amid security considerations from his spouse.

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