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DATE News (chronologically)
02/01/11
irl
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Hendrick bars Johnson from running Indy 500
My first 2011 blog, posted January 13, included direct quotes from five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson about his desire to race in the Indianapolis 500. (Nice the Indianapolis Star last Friday finally got around to using some JJ quotes about this from last week's media tour.) There was an obvious follow-up to that, and that was to talk with Rick Hendrick, owner of Jimmie's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. I saw Mr. H at the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction. As circumstances would have it, his time was limited, as he was on his way to the bidder's area. So arrangements were made for a telephone conversation. That happened last Wednesday.

Here's the complete transcript of Hendrick's answers to my questions if he'd give Johnson permission to give it a go in the I500, keeping in mind Johnson said he couldn't race a Honda-powered car, but Chevy is returning to Indy in 2012:

"His wife (Chandra) and I both feel the same way. We don't want to take a chance on Jimmie getting hurt in an open-wheel car when he's got what's going on here (NASCAR). I know it's one of those things he'd love to do, but I'm more concerned with his safety, just having him drive a car where, as competitive as he is, that he hasn't had any experience in. It's hard to get the test time in. You never say never, but right now, I'm going to be wanting him to concentrate on what we're doing here and not take a chance on getting hurt."

What if Chevy expressed a desire for Johnson to race Indy? Would Hendrick consider a partnership with an existing IndyCar team -- perhaps with Roger Penske?

"Roger and I have talked about it. He's a good friend. I'm not going to say it's out of the question, but it's not something I want to do right now." Spindoctor500

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