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story.lead_photo.caption Jimmie Johnson climbs into his car prior to practice for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Long Pond, Pa.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso drove for fun together around the Abu Dhabi F1 track on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon.

Alonso took the wheel of the McLaren 570S car, with Johnson for once in the passenger seat, as they completed a few laps around Yas Marina circuit.

On Monday, they will swap race cars in Bahrain for an event they have been teasing on their social media accounts in recent weeks.

Johnson, 43, arrived in Abu Dhabi from the McLaren headquarters in Woking, England, where he got a seat fitting and time in the McLaren simulator.

"It was so impressive, the architecture and the landscaping. I was there on a cool morning with the fog off the lake, the modernism of the building and the cars sitting there in the lobby," Johnson said. "Simulators are very good for the flow of the race track and (knowing) where the pit lane is. I was able to get that out of the way."

After the last race of Alonso's long F1 career today, he will try his hand at what Johnson does so well.

A Hendrick Motorsports stock car was shipped last month to Bahrain in a container that included tires and equipment for a full-day run. Hendrick Motorsports is also providing a crew to work with Alonso when he drives the Chevrolet.

"Our car (is from 2018) yes. Sadly, the restrictions for Formula One (means) it is a five-year-old car, but I hear it's a V8 (engine)," Johnson said, comparing the two cars being used. "I miss that sound, which I know everybody does. So I'm excited about that."

The race swap idea was formed during a chance January meeting in a waiting area at the Charlotte Convention Center. Johnson was at NASCAR's preseason media availability, and Alonso was brought to the event by IMSA to promote the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

"His presence in America has a huge effect on American racing, on Formula One racing, and on motorsports in general," Johnson said of Alonso. "Just the excitement value he brings to racing and the way he's portrayed in the U.S."

Alonso, 37, won F1 in 2005 and '06, and his 32nd and last GP win was in 2013 while with Ferrari.

The Spaniard has grown more interested in pursuing other racing interests and is aiming to win motorsport's Triple Crown of the 24 Hours Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500, and the Monaco GP.

Johnson said he would take the opportunity of racing in F1 "in a heartbeat" but knows that's far from realistic.

"The last single-seater I drove was probably in 1996, maybe '95 even," he said. "So it would be crazy to think I could come in and just immediately be there."

His more realistic goal is attempting to win an eighth NASCAR title. He is tied for the record with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

"The competitor in me wants to do it. I want to be the best," Johnson said. "But I can't believe I'm sitting here with seven as it is. It's been a pretty crazy ride."

Photo by AP
Driver Fernando Alonso of Spain waves to spectators in the pit during the qualifying session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

Sports on 11/25/2018

Print Headline: Johnson, Alonso to swap cars Monday for fun

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