INDIANAPOLIS – NASCAR's extravagant weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — where the back-and-forth battle between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin should continue — has been rocked by its first driver testing positive for the coronavirus.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson will miss what was supposed to be his final Brickyard 400 as he quarantines following the Friday test result. He was asymptomatic but wife Chani had tested positive, so Johnson had himself checked.
Johnson said he was disappointed and worried about the emotional impact of the positive tests on his young children. He still plans to step away from full-time racing after the season, though not away from the sport.
“Clearly I have this interest in Indy cars, sports cars, and in many other forms of racing so I assume that’s helping me deal with this and not feel like, you know, so I’m having some things taken away from me,” he said Saturday.
NASCAR was one of the first sports to resume competition following the sports shutdown and Sunday will be its 12th Cup race since the May return. Drivers are told to isolate at the race track, limit interaction with their crews and wear masks.
The entire industry stood shoulder-to-shoulder two weeks ago in support of driver Bubba Wallace, and Johnson was front and center and even hugged Wallace after the national anthem at Talladega. Johnson also spent a day this week in Dallara's simulator as preparation for a now-postponed Indy car test.
Johnson on Sunday had hoped to tie Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers with five victories at Indianapolis. Instead, Justin Allgaier will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet.
Harvick, meanwhile, will attempt to win a second consecutive Brickyard and a win on Indy's oval would tie NASCAR's points leader with Hamlin, the Daytona 500, at four wins each. The duo has combined for seven victories in 15 Cup races, including four of the last six and consecutive 1-2 finishes last weekend at Pocono.