Jimmie Johnson on sunrise runs and inebriated fans

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In order to compete at the highest level of motorsports, a driver needs to be every bit a “well-oiled machine” as the literal well-oiled machine he or she drives.

Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has long recognized this, and so, he’ll often go out for runs at the track during race weekends.

Considering that we’re talking about one of the sport’s biggest stars, you think this would be problematic, with over-zealous fans attempting to ask him for autographs while he’s trying to train.

But as it turns out, it’s not.

“Most of them have got to catch me first and they’re usually not sober enough or in shape enough to do that,” Johnson said yesterday at Dover, where he hopes to win for the ninth time in his Sprint Cup career this weekend.

Sometimes, Johnson will choose to go for a sunrise run, perhaps to help with the matter of being recognized. But as he or anybody else that hangs out at a track knows, the first light of morning can reveal some hilarious (and cringe-inducing) sights.

“There’s a variety of tracks where an early morning run is more entertaining than it is a workout,” said Johnson, who noted Talladega Superspeedway’s “Talladega Blvd.” and Texas Motor Speedway among those places. “You see people halfway in their tents and still passed out in lawn chairs and all kinds of good things.”

However, he’s not above breaking a sweat in the afternoon, either. That, of course, leads to fans getting a glimpse of him but Johnson says they’re kind enough to give him his space.

“In the afternoons, I’ll run this afternoon, usually people see me coming, they think; and as they go by they’ll say, ‘Hey Jimmie, is that you?’,” he said. “And I’ll wave and give them a thumbs-up or something and keep on digging.

“Guys on bikes and golf carts can run you down. But they’re usually pretty good about it.”

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.