Hulkenberg: Le Mans entry ‘completely different’ to Alonso’s Indy shot

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Nico Hulkenberg is surprised by Fernando Alonso’s decision to skip the Monaco Grand Prix so he can enter the 101st Indianapolis 500 next month, believing it is “completely different” to his own shot at Le Mans two years ago.

Alonso announced on Wednesday that he would be racing in this year’s Indy 500, bailing on the Formula 1 race in Monaco so he can pilot the McLaren-Honda-Andretti entry at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hulkenberg was the last F1 driver to cross codes, entering the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche in 2015 as part of its third-car line-up in the LMP1 class.

Alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, Hulkenberg claimed an unlikely victory in the 24-hour race, becoming the first current F1 driver to win at Le Mans since 1991.

Comparisons have been drawn following Alonso’s announcement, but Hulkenberg said it was different as his Porsche duties never impacted on his work in F1 with Force India.

“My case was completely different. I didn’t go away from F1 in the way he is,” Hulkenberg said on Thursday in Bahrain, as quoted by crash.net.

“I would have never done it if I had to miss a race for it, especially Monaco. A big decision and big news obviously and he can do what he wants.

“I am a bit surprised like everybody about this situation.”

Hulkenberg also said that Alonso’s run in the ‘500 will be a challenge given he will have just 10 days of running prior to the race to get to grips with the new style of car he will be racing.

“I think it is quite tough. I don’t know much about Indy but he has never driven these cars or an oval, so do you think you can come in and win that easily?” Hulkenberg questioned.

“I at least had half a year practice [for Le Mans]. It sounds like a challenge but obviously Fernando likes challenges.”

2016 Knoxville Nationals champ Jason Johnson succumbs to injuries from sprint car crash

Photo courtesy Jason Johnson Racing official Facebook page
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Former Knoxville Nationals champion sprint car driver Jason Johnson has died from injuries suffered in a crash Saturday night in a World of Outlaws race at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway).

Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his aggressive style of racing, Johnson, 41, passed away this morning, according to an announcement by WoO. He was one of the most respected and well-liked drivers on the circuit by both fellow competitors and fans.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson, a Eunice, Louisiana resident, was racing for the lead in the main event on the one-third-mile clay track with eventual race winner Daryn Pitman, when Johnson crashed on Lap 18 shortly after a restart.

Johnson’s car left the track surface in Turn 3 and flew through at least one billboard adjacent to the racetrack, according to media and witness reports.

It took rescue workers several minutes to extricate Johnson, who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital before being airlifted to Aurora Summit Hospital in Summit, Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel report.

How many will remember Johnson:

Johnson, who won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals – the sport’s biggest race – in Iowa in storybook fashion, had been a primarily part-time racer on various sprint car circuits from 1998 until he went full-time on the Outlaws series, capturing Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

MORE: Knoxville win should be big boost to Jason Johnson’s season, career

Johnson had 12 wins on the Outlaws circuit, including two victories this season.

The Journal Sentinel also posted a statement from SLS Promotions, which promoted Saturday’s race:

“Everyone at SLS Promotions offers our deepest, most sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to Bobbi Johnson (Jason’s wife), Jaxx Johnson (the couple’s son) and the entire Johnson family and JJR Racing team.

“Jason was a great competitor and true ambassador for the sport. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him during his time on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series trail. Jason will never be forgotten”

Other notables also commented on his death on social media:

According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson is the second driver in four years to die at the small track northwest of Milwaukee. In September 2014, Scott Semmelann, 47, was killed there while practicing for an Interstate Racing Association event.

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