Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Graham Rahal?
NASCAR’s most popular driver and one of IndyCar’s most prominent Americans appear to be getting in position to become the latest stock car/open-wheel combo to perform a high-profile ride swap.
Rahal (as well as girlfriend and NHRA racer Courtney Force and her father, 16-time Funny Car champ John) was in attendance for today’s Auto Club 400 one week before he begins the new Verizon IndyCar Series season in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Afterwards, he reached out to his fellow National Guard-sponsored driver about the possibility of swapping rides – and it seems that Earnhardt was open to the idea.
Naturally, Indianapolis Motor Speedway gave its blessing to the idea, with track president J. Douglas Boles declaring that the Brickyard would be open for such an occasion.
IMS was the site of the Gordon-Montoya ride swap back in 2003, when Montoya was racing in Formula One. The event saw Gordon take Montoya’s Williams-BMW FW24 for laps, while Montoya did the same in Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
The NASCAR and F1 worlds came together again at a rainy Watkins Glen in 2011, when Hamilton got to sample Stewart’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy and Stewart drove the McLaren MP4-23 that took Hamilton to the 2008 World Championship.
You figure there will be some hurdles to jump in order for Earnhardt and Rahal to do a swap of their own, but it’s certainly an exciting prospect for NASCAR and IndyCar fans alike. We’ll keep an eye on this…