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NASCAR drivers inspired by Johnson’s Indy challenge

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Those scheduled to have time Sunday afternoon with Chase Elliott, be warned: He’ll be late if former NASCAR teammate Jimmie Johnson is in contention at the end of the Indianapolis 500.

“I’m going to try to keep up the pace as best I can; I feel like our day is always a little busy when the race is on or at least when it’s starting to wind down,” Elliott said.

“I’m going to try to keep up. Hopefully he (Johnson) is in the race and if he is, he could be late for a duty or two if Jimmie leads that thing to the finish.”

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Elliott is one of many in the NASCAR garage who will be watching television for IndyCar’s biggest race. Charlotte Motor Speedway usually turns into one big viewing party with the race on the big screen overlooking the backstretch, which crew members in the garage can watch when they get the chance. The race is also inside the media center for those preparing to work on the Coca-Cola 600.

“I’m super intrigued and excited for him,” Elliott said of Johnson. “I think he has a legitimate chance from what I’ve followed. And I think his performance in Texas impressed a lot of people. That didn’t surprise me too much, as good as he is on ovals and how much experience on ovals he has. So, I think that’s really cool. Like I said, I feel like he has a chance to win.”

Kurt Busch knows all about being a NASCAR driver entering his first Indianapolis 500. Busch took the Indianapolis/Charlotte double in 2014 with a sixth-place finish at Indy before suffering a mechanical failure that ended his night at Charlotte early. of time.

“I’ve been supporting him with texts and some driver tips and trying to incorporate Tony Stewart’s experience with the stuntman as well and trying to feed Jimmie the best way I can,” Busch said. “And of course we support it and I will be watching. I can usually watch halfway through and then my duties start on race day with fan events and meetings with our team. But it’s on DVR, and I can’t wait to see it, and I can’t wait to hear the results from Jimmie.”

Before the sun goes down in Charlotte, several Cup drivers will keep their eyes on Johnson at Indy. Images by Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport

Johnson starts 12th in his first Indianapolis 500. He has won four times at the Brickyard in NASCAR.

Ryan Blaney will support Johnson up to a point. As a driver for Team Penske, Blaney knows how important Indianapolis is to Roger Penske and looks to sweep the day with a win at Charlotte.

“I definitely make sure to watch as much as I can,” Blaney said. “Usually you can watch most of it before we have to do (host) introductions and stuff like that. I am looking forward to seeing. Obviously I’m going to root for Jimmie after my Penske guys: Scott [McLaughlin]Joseph [Newgarden]and the will [Power]. But I’ll root for Jimmie because I think it’s going to be very special for him, and it sounds like talking to him, he’s had a lot of fun up there and he’s doing a pretty good job.

“So that’s something I always make sure to watch just to see how those guys are doing. Obviously, first, I want our Penske guys to win, but I’ll root for Jimmie to run fourth. So we’ll see how that goes. It will be a fun time. I hope you really enjoy it. I know he’ll appreciate being able to do that, and he very much deserves to be able to run the 500.”

As Bubba Wallace said, the entire NASCAR industry is betting on its seven-time champion.

“He’s a crazy guy who knows what he’s doing, and the most important thing is that he enjoys it and has fun,” Wallace said. “He looks like a kid in a candy store living out his lifelong dream of being able to do that. I’m cheering him on.”

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