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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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Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”