INDIANAPOLIS – Fernando Alonso and Jimmie Johnson swapped rides on Monday overseas in Bahrain. There’s really not a whole lot to cover when you’re time zones away and not in attendance. I mean, what resources are available to something taking place while most in the United States are still sleeping?
Plus, it’s a ride swap. It’s not like either driver was pounding the pavement going for track records. But, what they said after the fact though, well it will turn heads back here in America.
See, the IndyCar Series had nothing to do with this ride swap in the Middle Eastern country. It was Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series being driven by Alonso and the Spaniard’s No. 14 McLaren in Formula One being driven by Johnson. But, the topic of IndyCar still came up.
Alonso, is going to at least make his second IndyCar start next May in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. We know that as a fact. He raced in the 2017 edition and is after the Triple Crown. McLaren will field a car for him. While a lot of fans thought that with Alonso retiring from F1 at the end of this season, he’d jump to race Indy Car full time in 2019. That isn’t going to be the case.
It appears that Alonso is going to race in a lot of different series across the globe. He’s not going for a championship in anything per say. He did admit on Monday though that in 2020, he’s likely going to go for a title in something. That “something” may be IndyCar.
“In 2019… I want to fight for the Triple Crown, the Indy 500 and other iconic races,” said Alonso via F1.com. “Maybe Daytona, maybe other things will come. But yeah, for 2020 maybe I feel the need to do a full calendar in something. Maybe full IndyCar, maybe full Formula 1, I don’t know. Maybe that’s the time to come back, or maybe I will enjoy next year so much that I will not come back.”
Meanwhile, Johnson had so much fun in his test day that he would like to try an open wheel single seater in a race himself. While an F1 seat in a one-off, is highly unlikely, an IndyCar race isn’t.
Johnson, had always been against driving in an open wheel, open cockpit, machine. He said that he started off envious of the Indy Car drivers but as he got married and started having kids, the danger and risk was too much. He even said on Monday that he has no desire for a high speed oval but would like to race in a road course at some point. He even went as far to say that he has connections to make it work.
Johnson, grew up in California and idolized Rick Mears, another California native. Mears, won a record tying four Indianapolis 500’s in his day which drew the attention of Johnson. The two have a very similar path to racing, starting in motorbikes in fact. If, Johnson were to try it out, 2020 or 2021 make sense. 2020 is the final year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports and he may want to try something in an off weekend.
Tony Stewart has mentioned that he’d like to run the Indy 500 as a one-off too and said that if he were to do so, he’d like to race at Pocono first. Kasey Kahne is also another option to run as he may have retired from NASCAR, but he made it clear he’s not done racing either. He said that despite his condition that he can still run an open cockpit. He was rumored to have options for an Indy only seat this past year and was seen in the IndyCar season finale this past September as a guest of Ed Carpenter Racing, the same team that ran a third car in May for Danica Patrick.
This was another great day for IndyCar and they weren’t even involved.