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F1’s Fernando Alonso to swap rides with NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson in Bahrain

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Slated to “retire” from Formula One at the end of this season, two-time champion Fernando Alonso has said he’d like to try competing in several other racing series in his so-called “retirement.”

He’s already set to compete in 2019 in the World Rallycross Series. There are rumbles he may return to the Rolex 24 Hours.

He’s also has hinted he may come back to race again in the Indianapolis 500.

But in light of a mutual tweet on Friday from both Alonso and seven-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson, could NASCAR also be on Alonso’s racing bucket list?

Alonso will get a chance to experience what it’s like to drive Johnson’s NASCAR Cup car on Monday, November 26, one day after Alonso’s final F1 race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But there’s more:

Johnson will in turn get an opportunity to drive Alonso’s McLaren-Renault F1 car at the same time. Both drivers will swap rides on the Bahrain International Circuit, site of F1’s annual Bahrain Grand Prix.

This won’t be just a couple of laps run and call it a day. Rather, both drivers plan to make a full day of it on-track, learning and experiencing what the other has done throughout their respective racing careers.

“We really want to have a full day to experience each other’s cars and mess around,” Johnson said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

According to NASCAR Talk’s Dustin Long, Hendrick Motorsports shipped a car Oct. 9 to go by boat to Bahrain for Alonso to drive. Johnson said the team “packed the container with plenty of tires and equipment to let him run as long as he wants to get the full experience, and they’re offering that same thing to me.”

Johnson will depart the U.S. almost immediately after NASCAR Cup’s final race of the 2018 season at Homestead Miami Speedway on Nov. 18. Johnson will spend two days at McLaren’s headquarters in Great Britain to try to get acclimated to the open-wheel ride, simulated g-forces and greater downforce in McLaren’s F1 simulator before heading to Bahrain.

Several members of Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports team will also be on hand at the “swap” to assist Alonso.

The experience is already being referred to on social media as #JJxALO.

Check out the great tweet both drivers put out today:

Alonso tweeted out the same post:

This isn’t the first time well-known drivers have “traded” or “tried” other rides:

* Three-time NASCAR Cup champ Tony Stewart and five-time F1 champ Lewis Hamilton did so in June 2011 at Watkins Glen.

* In 2003, Jeff Gordon drove future NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya’s F1 ride at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

* In August 1988, NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine got behind the wheel of Arie Luyendyk’s CART open-wheel race car to run a few laps around Michigan International Speedway.

* NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott was at MIS on the same day Bodine drove Luyendyk’s car. Afterward, Elliott quipped he’d like to try driving an Indy car someday. Awesome Bill got the opportunity three years later, also at MIS, when Elliott drove several laps around MIS in Cheever’s Indy car, hitting a top speed of 210 mph on his fastest lap.

* In early 2002, 1998 Indy Racing League champ and 1999 Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack drove the No. 42 NASCAR Cup Dodge for Chip Ganassi during a test at Daytona International Speedway. The plan was for Brack to drive a few weeks later in the Daytona 500. But sponsorship fell through and Brack never had a chance to fulfill his dream.

Gee, we wonder … given that he’ll soon drive Johnson’s Cup car, what’s on Alonso’s schedule for mid-February?

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”