Jimmie Johnson added to IndyCar iRacing Challenge opener

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Jimmie Johnson will get a head start on his hopes of racing against the stars of IndyCar.

The seven-time NASCAR champion was added Friday to the entry list of Saturday’s IndyCar iRacing Challenge. The opener of the six-race series will be contested at Watkins Glen International.

Incidentally, Johnson is winless at the road course in NASCAR and once had an infamous shunt into the tire barriers during an Xfinity race in August 2000). It’s one of only three tracks (Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway are the others) that he hasn’t conquered in Cup.

Johnson has spent much of his time racing IndyCar on his home simulator, recently explaining that his simulation rig was designed to mimic IndyCar instead of NASCAR.

A relative novice in online stock cars, he made an inauspicious debut in the NASCAR iRacing event at Homestead-Miami Speedway last Sunday, causing a memorable caution and finishing 31st.

 “Not a great showing. I’m going to take all the responsibility,” Johnson said. “I’ve not spent a lot of time in iRacing or really racing at all on sims. So I’m learning my way through that. Lots of things to learn within the race. I didn’t even have a spotter, which seemed to be a problem a couple of times with wrecks, race format, just a lot of race details.”

Johnson has expressed much interest in IndyCar over the past year.

He attended the open test in Austin, Texas, in February and indicated he wanted to run part time in the series after his last full-time season in NASCAR this year. He had been scheduled to test a Chevrolet for Arrow McLaren SP next month at Barber Motorsports Park before the session was canceled

Last week, Johnson tweeted that IndyCar remains on his “bucket list” despite the interruption of the NASCAR season for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

‘BACK HOME AGAIN’Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, NBC

FIERCE FRIENDSHIPPagenaud, Rossi recall epic battle of 2019 Indy 500

Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).