JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed that he and his wife, Chandra, tested positive for COVID-19, his emotional and mental outlook, his activities over the past week or so, the concerns over his daughters, missing Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and more.
Also joining the call were Jeff Andrews, Vice President of Competition for Hendrick Motorsports, and Cliff Daniels, Crew Chief of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Full Transcript:
WALK US THROUGH WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY AND TELL US HOW YOU AND CHANI ARE DOING
"Thank you to everybody out there sharing their concerns and checking in on me and my family. It was just clearly a crazy day yesterday. Chani had some allergy-like symptoms she was dealing with earlier in the week. And being the rule follower, and the ever-cautious individual she is, she felt she needed to go to the local hospital here in Colorado and have a test done just to be responsible and do our part. And then, we waited on her test results, which took a couple of days. And those came in yesterday morning around 9:00 am. And from that point on, we were just dealing with the issues at hand and trying to understand if I was positive. I was lucky to get in and be tested and get a quick result for myself and my children. My kids are negative. Chani and I are positive, which is a crazy situation to try to manage in our household right now, in self-isolation, and also trying to parent. So, that’s really the chain of events and how we’ve ended up where we are today."
HOW ARE YOU DOING EMOTIONALLY? ARE YOU FEARING FOR YOUR HEALTH? ARE YOU FEARING MORE FOR GETTING IN THE RACE CAR? WHERE ARE YOU MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY?
"Thankfully, I am asymptomatic. So, I don’t have the fear. We don’t know how many days in I am right now, so there is some concern that my conditions could worsen. But, I have literally had zero symptoms. My wife, at the most, has had allergy-like symptoms, which isn’t uncommon for us this time of year in Colorado. The Cottonwoods are doing their thing, and everyone in town has some kind of small allergy-related symptoms. So, I feel great. I think our biggest concern right now is for our children. They are negative as of yesterday. Of course, we’re being very responsible in our home and trying to self-isolate, but at the same time we have to parent. And, that’s really the tricky hurdle we’re trying to sort out right now on top of managing their fears. Thankfully we’re healthy and hope to stay that way, but for a 9 and a 6-year old to try and manage the fear right now and they can’t come around Mom or Dad. And we’re got to feed them, and we’re concerned about feeding them and passing the virus. So, we’re trying to be as healthy as we can, but on the home front with our kids, we’re heart-broken right now to see the fear in their eyes and watching them trying to manage what’s going on right now."
HAVE YOU BEEN IN ASPEN SINCE WEDNESDAY OR SO? DID YOU GO TO INDIANAPOLIS? CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH WHERE YOU’VE BEEN?
"Yeah, we’ve been out here the last few weeks. I’ve been, obviously, to the race tracks to compete. We did go back to Charlotte maybe 8 or ten days ago for a brief trip. And then on Thursday, I did go to Indianapolis to Dallara to drive their simulator. That was a day trip out and back, and I was preparing to head to Indianapolis tomorrow morning."
YOUR RETIREMENT SEASON CONTINUES TO NOT GO AS PLANNED. YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF GREAT THINGS HAPPEN IN YOUR CAREER AND YOUR LIFE, BUT IS THERE NOT A TEMPTATION TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF AT THIS POINT AND GO MAN, NOTHING SEEMS TO BE GOING RIGHT?
"2020 has been interesting. There’s no doubt about it. I can be down and out on my situation, but if I turn on the news and I see how this virus has impacted so many others, I quickly feel thankful that I’m asymptomatic and that I don’t have any major issues. It would be very easy right now to get bummed-out and to look at this the wrong way, but I’m healthy. My wife is healthy. My kids are. Our prayers are that it stays that way. We’re hopeful that through our situation that maybe some others can learn from this as well. If it wasn’t for Chani’s diligence on trying to do the right thing at all times, we would be going on with life as normal. And who knows who we could have come in contact with and the repercussions that could have had? I know our country and the world right now is over quarantine and all these technicalities that we need to deal with, but as a family that’s been very safe and very cautious to end up testing positive just shows how diligent you truly need to be through all this."
THIS IS NOT HOW YOU EXPECTED TO SPEND INDEPENDENCE DAY WEEKEND. ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A WAY TO MAYBE CELEBRATE A LITTLE BIT AS A FAMILY?
"Yeah, we hope so. It’s very tricky, though, with my wife and I testing positive and our kids are negative. We’re very scared to be around them and interact with them. Not to mention my oldest, her birthday is coming up on July 7th and the combination of fear that she has and then heart being broken for the 4th of July and her birthday. We’re going to be celebrating inside of our house and distancing as far as we can. It’s just been tough for our little ones to really grasp."
FROM A CONTACT TRACING PERSPECTIVE, ASIDE FROM NASCAR AND THE SIMULATOR, DID YOU HAVE ANY OTHER CONTACT WITH CHIP GANASSI RACING? WERE YOU AT THE SHOP FOR A SEAT-FITTING OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?
"Yeah, to go back 14 days, clearly I was at Pocono. I’ve been to Ganassi for a seat fitting and then to Dallara. So, I’ve been through all those steps to notify everybody and let them know. The CDC has also contacted me and Chani and has gone through their survey and interview. So, we’ve done everything we think we can and have called everybody that we could. So yesterday was extremely busy and in some respects, embarrassing to be in this position. And then you fear that maybe you came in contact with someone that’s going to have a more difficult time than we have had. I feel terrible for Ganassi Racing and any stress I’ve put on their system; and clearly, Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a wild range of emotions in the last 12 or 14 hours in dealing with it all. But, we’re doing everything we can on our side to make sure we notify anyone and everyone."
TO CLARIFY, HAVE YOU BEEN TO HENDRICK RECENTLY?
"I have not been to Hendrick since, gosh, I was in the parking lot I believe, to drive one of our first cars for Darlington to make sure everything was correct. But that was distanced and with just one individual. And, since then, I’ve not been back to Hendrick. I was at Ganassi, but in a very small room off to the side. They’re very diligent about following protocol and creating compartments, as well. So, my interaction on the Ganassi-side has really only been with two to four people, I would say, at the most."
HOW MUCH DID YOUR PERSONAL ANTENNA GO UP? HOUR BY HOUR, MINUTE BY MINUTE, TO SEE HOW YOU FEEL; IF YOUR THROAT FEELS GOOD IF YOUR SINUSES START UP? THE UNCERTAINTY HAS REALLY GOT TO BE SOMETHING
"I’m sure like many. My wife and I have joked around for months that we have a phantom symptom, and maybe we have it, right. Like when lockdown kicked-in, if we sneezed or we coughed; some of that was in our minds and we joked about it. And here we are, asymptomatic, and have the virus. At least where Chani is in her art, to test positive on Wednesday, and now it’s Saturday, it’s been five to six days for her. And from what we understand, she’s through probably one of the more critical points of all this. So, we feel optimistic that with her it’s going to stay the course. For me, we don’t know. We just know I tested positive yesterday. So, a little bit of fear, but all-in-all, I’ve had no symptoms. So, I’m optimistic that it stays that way and I’ve talked to many that have had the virus, and quite a few of my friends and people I’ve spoken to have been asymptomatic, as well. And maybe it’s a tickle in their throat and that’s been the extent of it. I’m sure hoping it stays that way."
ANOTHER INDYCAR TEST WILL BE KICKED DOWN THE ROAD A LITTLE BIT. IS IT ALMOST A SITUATION WHERE YOU ALREADY FEEL LIKE A RETIRED DRIVER BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY GET A CHANCE TO TEST?
"Yeah, what a weird situation there. Again, I’m trying to keep it all in perspective. Thankfully I’m healthy. Thankfully, my wife is. That INDYCAR test will be there. Hopefully I’m cleared soon, and I can get back to the track. To get in the No. 48 car is my first priority of course. And we’ll get to that INDYCAR test. Thankfully, I have interest on the INDYCAR-side and sooner or later I’ll be able to drive one and see what that’s like."
IF YOU’RE HEALTHY LIKE YOU ARE, THERE SEEMS TO BE A FEELING THAT YOU PROBABLY CAN’T GET IT. DID YOU HAVE THAT FEELING IN TERMS OF DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT AND ARE SURPRISED TO KNOW YOU ARE STILL ABLE TO GET IT?
"Yeah, I feel like we’ve been very diligent to do the best that we can. We’ve been wearing masks for a long time and of course, following the protocols of washing our hands and being as careful as we thought we could be. And then the other tricky part of this is being asymptomatic, if Chani wasn’t the role follower that she is and as diligent as she is with things, we would still be going along through life and possibly infecting others. So, I have more questions, honestly, than I do answers at this point. I don’t think you can be careful enough. With our best attempts, we still ended up positive, somehow. We’re unclear as to how we ended up positive. Yesterday, in going to the hospital and getting my test and talking to healthcare professionals, having my positive test, and talking to more healthcare professionals, there are so many unknowns right now. And we really, as individuals, have to be diligent to do the best that we can. City, state, president, everybody involved; there’s just not a lot of answers. And I can’t even get answers having the virus. There’s really a lot that counts on the individual and on your family to self-monitor and self-regulate and to use self-discipline. So, that’s the takeaway that I have on all this and hopefully that can encourage others to be as diligent as they can and not let their guard down right now."
YOU HAVEN’T MISSED A CUP RACE SINCE 2002. ARE YOU GOING TO BE WATCHING SUNDAY? IF SO, WILL YOU BE IN CONTACT WITH THE TEAM DURING THE RACE OR JUST BE A FAN SITTING ON THE SIDELINES?
"Yeah, I’ll definitely be watching. Crazy say to have your start streak come to an end. But I’ll absolutely be watching and hoping for the best for that No. 48 car. My team means everything to me, and I know we’re all very disappointed with the situation. I’m confident that Justin Allgaier is going to get in and do a great job. He has track position to start the race and I hope he can make the most of it. I know Cliff is going to call a great race and our guys on pit road are going to get it done. So, I’m wishing him all the best and I’ll be watching as fan, unfortunately."
DOES MISSING OUT ON SO MUCH MAKE YOU RE-THINK YOUR SCHEDULE FOR NEXT YEAR TO GET SOME OF THESE ‘LASTS’ BACK, LIKE YOUR LAST SONOMA OR BRICKYARD? OR, IS THAT TOO FAR IN THE FUTURE TO THINK ABOUT?
"Every time I think what normal is, something changes. So, of course I want to race at the Brickyard and of course I feel disappointment that I’m not going to have some of these lasts that I’d hoped to have had, but I just don’t know where we’re going to be at the end of this year, let alone next year. I do know that I still want to compete, and I made that really clear. And I’ve had to inform Hendrick Motorsports that I do plan to not be in the car full time. So, they have to plan and do what they need to for the future. But I’m hopeful that I can have an opportunity to come back and run a Cup car in some races. Clearly, I have this interest in INDYCAR and Sports Car and other forms of racing. So, I assume that’s helping me deal with this and not feel like I’m having some things taken away from me. But, at the end of the day, I’m just thankful that I’m healthy and not in the shape that some people are right now and dealing with it. So, I’m trying really hard to not be disappointed in the professional side of maybe in some of these more selfish things, that I’m going to miss out on; and be thankful that I’m healthy and my family is healthy."
DID YOU TEST FOR ANTIBODIES EARLIER DURING THE PANDEMIC?
"I did. Earlier this year, early into the lockdown when I found out there was a semi-reliable antibody test, I did take that, and I did test positive for the antibodies. There was a big gap in the rate of being positive, to be truthful. I’m trying to think of the word that comes with that. The test rate or whatever it might be. So, it was just a data point for me out of curiosity. Chani and I both wanted to find out if we were antibody-positive, and I did get that result back that I was positive, and she was not. But we didn’t know how much to trust the antibody test, I think it was like a 20 percent rate of being incorrect."
IS THAT ONE OF THOSE THINGS WHERE YOU HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS AND NOT A LOT OF ANSWERS?
"For sure. I was warned by my physician then that although I did test positive for the antibodies, there’s a 20 percent chance that it’s incorrect; on top of the fact that they don’t know what the antibodies mean. And still today, I don’t know what they mean. Once I clear this and go back into life, I assume I still need to be very cautious and I could be re-infected once again. There are just so many questions regarding this virus and what means what. I still don’t have clarity. The longer I get into this and the more issues I deal with, the more questions I have."
YOU HAVE TAKEN ON THIS ROLE OF A CHAMPION, AND HELPING BUBBA WALLACE, AND MAKING THAT VIDEO; DO YOU THINK THE VIRUS IS ANOTHER THING YOU CAN EDUCATE PEOPLE ON?
"Yeah, this is not a position I thought I’d find myself in. I’ve been in the sport a long time and have won many championships and offered my opinion and advice through the years, but in the last few months with all the various things that have come along through the video and speaking up and supporting Bubba, and now this, I’ve found myself in a position that people are paying much more attention to what I have to say. I do feel that responsibility. I’ve felt it for a long time, and it’s been interesting how in the last two or three months how my voice has carried much further. So, hopefully my voice is still carrying the same message of listen, learn, understand, be kind, open your heart, from the issues that we experienced last month. And where I sit now, it’s hopefully to keep your guard up. We thought we were very diligent in our household. And it still found a way in. So, I can also expand on the fact that testing takes many days to get your results. And if you do feel symptomatic, do the right thing and just stay in. Bring your family indoors. The asymptomatic position that we found ourselves in really caught us off-guard."
DO YOU STILL THINK THERE IS A CHANCE EITHER WITH CHIP GANASSI RACING OR ANOTHER TEAM THAT YOU’LL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TEST LATER ON THIS YEAR, OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO TELL?
"As long as I’m healthy and the world stays open, I really believe there will be that opportunity. INDYCAR has a high priority to help with driver development for many other drivers who are interested in coming into the sport. So, the interest I have from teams and the friendships and relationships that I have with various teams, I do feel that opportunity will be there later in the year."
AS BEST YOU CAN, WALK US THROUGH THE EMOTION OVER THE PAST 14 HOURS
"I guess backing up to the phone call Chani received, in my head I felt like she was being Chani and being too concerned and that she just had some allergy issues and that was the extent of it. So, I played through two scenarios and then when we found out she was positive, it certainly kicked one of the scenarios into effect. And, I was blown-away and surprised and caught off-guard and embarrassed, I guess, to some respect and fearful of the impact this would have on my race team, and the folks at Ganassi that I came in contact with. All these emotions that are primarily fear-based, kick-in. And, it was interesting because they were much more work-focused than it was family-focused because we are all healthy. Looking back on that, I’m thankful that we feel well and don’t seem to have any issues right now and we didn’t have that fear in our lives. So, it very much went into the professional side and trying to manage of that. Of course, through contract tracing and trying to get in touch with anyone and everyone we could. So, again, thankfully we’re asymptomatic and seem to be healthy and well so far and my mind went to the emotions on the work side. As the day went on, watching the impact that the positive test has had on our children is heartbreaking. And it’s something we’re going to have to manage over these next couple of weeks as we’re in quarantine and isolation. To see the fear in their eyes and watch them try to process all of this and wonder if their parents are going to be like what they’ve seen in the news and if they’re going to experience that. And trying to stay isolated from them right now and parents at the same time is a challenge we’re not sure how we’re going to handle."
EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS RIGHT NOW, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN OR THE CDC OR WHOMEVER SINCE THE DIAGNOSIS?
"It appears that recently there have been more asymptomatic people out there. I’m not sure if that’s just because testing is more available. It seems logical. Even the medical professionals I’ve spoken to are theorizing more than they are giving facts. I’m surprised how many asymptomatic people have tested positive and those numbers I think, are staggering. Thankfully the mortality rate seems to be down. Obviously, there’s a big lag in how all of this works, so my prayers are for those that do test positive, including myself, that this does not progress and advance and is going in the wrong direction."
YOU MENTIONED THAT THE CDC CALLED. EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW HOW ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST GUYS IN SPORTS CAN CATCH THIS. WHAT WAS THE CDC CALL LIKE AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL OTHERS WHO ARE MAYBE IN THE SAME SITUATION?
"The conversation with the CDC was much more about trying to understand our location, the community that we’re in, and who we came in contact with in that community in the last 14 days. So, it was very much focused on contact tracing. Outside of that, just some basic health questions were asked, trying to understand if we had any pre-existing medical issue that we are dealing with; and I assume just to help with statistics that we see and read daily as we check-in on the Coronavirus and how that’s going. It was a very clinical conversation with them, if you will."
BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO BE SOMEONE THAT NOT JUST NASCAR FANS ARE LOOKING AT, EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW. WHAT ADVISE CAN YOU GIVE TO OTHERS?
"It’s really just staying diligent. If Chani wasn’t the individual the she is and the rule follower precautions she takes in life, I would be walking around asymptomatic and infecting people. I think trusting your instincts and being cautious. I know everyone is tired of the lockdown and tired of the new normal that we’ve all had to experience, but it really is for a reason. And thankfully, we’re healthy and hope that we continue to stay healthy. Hopefully we have not infected anyone through the delay that it takes in testing on our side. I think that’s the part that kind of worries me the most. You go in for minor symptoms and think you’re just being overly cautious, and then you get a positive test and you’re like, wow. A couple of days have elapsed and who have I been in contact with? Looking back, that’s the part that people should be most aware of. Stay diligent, trust your instincts and your intuition and take things seriously."
DO YOU HAVE ANY PHILOSOPHY ABOUT HOW THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED AT ALL?
"It’s definitely been on my mind. I’m not sure if Chani gave it to me or if I gave it to her or if we got it separately from one another. It’s logical to think that one of us gave it to the other. I always have seasonal allergies that I deal with. So, having the need to take an allergy pill over the last few days, few weeks, is very common for me. That’s one of the prescriptions that I take. I have a prescription for Flonase that I’ve always used since It has been available. Again, I have more questions than I do answers. We came to Colorado because we felt like being in the mountains out here would be a safer place to be than in the city in Charlotte. So, we really don’t have many answers. Hopefully through our unfortunate situation, we can help others be more diligent and mindful and prevent them from going through all this."
WHY IS ONLY ONE TEAM MEMBER UNDER QUARANTINE?
"On the team member situation, we immediately, yesterday, began to work with NASCAR and follow their protocol on how to deal with this very closely. We began to kind of re-walk, very diligently, the last 14 days with Jimmie and who he had been around and talked to and so forth. I commend first and foremost, NASCAR and their processes. They’ve done a great job at the race track with keeping everybody safe and managing this. As far as our team, specific to Hendrick Motorsports, all of our employees are required to wear PPE of course. We have an N95 filter insert that goes into our masks, that all of our employees, wear. Purely out of precaution on our end, the interior mechanic was the one person that we could say had physically had contacts with some portion of Jimmie’s suit or helmet and so on and so forth. We made that decision on our own, to hold that individual back this week. We put that plan in front of NASCAR, which they fully supported. That’s kind of how we got there."
SINCE THE WHOLE OPERATING SYSTEM WAS JUST DOWN IN ATLANTA, AND YOU HAVE NOW TESTED POSITIVE, AND THERE WILL LIKELY BE OTHERS DOWN THE ROAD, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CONTINUE TO THE WHOLE OPERATION NOW?
"If you have pre-existing conditions, this virus can be really harmful. It can threaten your life and it can even take your life. So, from my standpoint I feel like we need to stay diligent and we need to listen to the specialists and do our part and follow protocol. This is something unlike anyone in our generation or recent generations before us have dealt with. So, I think we all still need to take it very seriously and I think even being more diligent now as it appears that it’s more common now to be asymptomatic. You’d hate to pass this on to an elderly person or somebody with pre-existing conditions and then have the worst happen."
HOW HAS THE TEAM REACTED TO THIS NEWS AND WHAT DOES JUSTIN ALLGAIER THINK ABOUT NO PRACTICE AND NO QUALIFYING?
"First and foremost, at the top of our mind, is the health and safety of Jimmie and Chandra and making sure they’re well and that he is able to return to competition within a reasonable timeframe. And then beyond that, certainly since we’ve been back, racing has not been business as usual for anyone. And so this just continues to be our process to go through things and to go race. It’s just not normal. I have the utmost faith in our teams and in Justin to come in and do a good job. We all spent a bit of time on the phone yesterday just to go over our plans for the weekend. There was a lot of work done by many individuals that we’re very thankful for at Hendrick Motorsports and the shop to get the seat in the car turned around and ready to go. So for the weekend, I do believe we will forfeit our fourth place starting position, because of the driver change, and start at the rear of the field. So, we have a job to do to go out and perform at the highest level that we can and to make good pit calls and to execute a good race. Obviously, Justin has a lot of history in Cup cars and at the Speedway, so we have a lot of confidence in him. And, our group has been building every week to make sure we can execute and perform at a high level. Even though it’s a very unfortunate circumstance for us all, we still have to do our part to make Ally proud and to make Hendrick Motorsports proud and to do honor to Jimmie and the No. 48 car just to have a good weekend. So, that’s our plan."
DID YOU HAVE ANY SAY IN WHO WOULD REPLACE THIS WEEKEND FOR THIS WEEKEND?
"The decision to put Allgaier in the car, I give a lot of credit to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and the process that we’ve had in place since before we went back racing in Darlington. We have had our own basically secondary line-up and that includes anyone from driver to crew chief all the way through the crew members that travel to the race track. Jeff Andrews and the folks at Hendrick Motorsports have managed that and made sure that roster was strong, and everyone was in place in a situation like this. So, there really was no extra thought that we had to put into it. This lineup was already set. We had all the plans in place just out of the abundance of caution that we wanted to take. And again, even before going back racing in Darlington, this has been in place. There were no extra decisions to be made. Justin has been on stand-by this whole time and has been aware that this could happen."
"Just to add to that, I’ve been friends with Justin for a lot of years and raced against him. With him being at JRM and in the family, if you will, at Hendrick Motorsports, he’s been a great resource for me to get information from him on how a Saturday goes. He’s just been a friend and a resource for many years. I’m highly confident in his ability and excited to him to get in there and wheel that thing."
SINCE NASCAR WENT ON HIATUS AND CORONAVIRUS BECAME AN ISSUE, CAN YOU TELL US WHAT STEPS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS TAKEN TO PREVENT THE SPREAD?
"Shortly after Atlanta, when the industry got shut down, team members of HMS began to meet daily to discuss our protocol when we would go back to work whenever that date would happen. A lot of planning and a lot of preparation went into that by a lot of people and departments. You know, just an overview of that, we worked two split-shifts. So, we have two, what you would call an ‘A Group’ and a ‘B Group’ and they are never thee at the same time. In general, the ‘A Group’ will work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; and the a ‘B Group; will come in and work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And we did that, just to always have a group of people, that should we have anything within the organization, to where we needed to sit the ‘A Group’, we could still have a ‘B Group’ of employees that could come in and work. In between all of our shifts, we have a complete sanitization of our facility that goes on. All of our people are in proper PPE the entire they are there. We screen our people on entrance to the campus. We are not allowing things like food service and things like that, do not come on our campus currently. Any outside vendors that come on our campus are screened before they enter our campus. We’ve been very diligent about keeping our shop crews and our road crews separated. So, Cliff any myself and anyone else who travels on the road weekly to the race track, have not been back in the shop since we closed there shortly after Atlanta. We’re doing that out of an abundance of caution. I’m not sure everybody is doing that, but we’re just trying to keep, first and foremost, everyone healthy, and keep in mind the safety of our folks and our employees and just have as much gap between those groups as we possibly can. I think that’s a quick overview."
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR YOU MOVING FORWARD? HOW SOON DO YOU GO BACK AND GET TESTED? WHAT ARE THE STEPS NOW?
"I have some calls this morning to better understand that. I’ve been through the chaos yesterday afternoon and I learned that once I have two negative tests that I can go back to the track. So, I think it’s whichever happens first, either the 14 days or two negative tests. So, I’m optimistic that my system will beat this virus quicker than the 14 days. I know I can be tested daily. I just don’t know when I can get my results. It’s just a nationwide problem, if not a worldwide problem that you take a test and it can be two or three or four days before you get the results. Hopefully I can close that loop and be able to do that. Of course, as an athlete, I feel that it’s important to have that test done quickly so I can get back to my job, but clearly there are people out there that need this test and quicker response. The labs that can perform that quicker response, they need that priority more on their side than mine. So, I’ll do my best to try to get two negative tests as quickly as I can and hopefully that’s before the 14 days."
AT THIS POINT, DO YOU NOT EXPECT TO BE AT KENTUCKY ON JULY 12th AND THEN EVEN THE ALL-STAR RACE JULY 15th AT BRISTOL?
"Yeah, I guess with the 14-day scenario, I tested yesterday so the first day I could get back to the track would be Saturday, 14 days from now."
YOU FOUND OUT 14 HOURS AGO YOU WILL HAVE A NEW DRIVER, SO WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENTS YOU’VE HAD TO MAKE TO PREPARE IN SUCH A SHORT TIME?
"A few things come to mind quickly as we really need to make sure Justin is comfortable in the car. We had a lot of notes, fortunately, just throughout our company and our relationship with JRM to get the correct fit numbers for his seat, foot pedals, steering column, and things like that. We really want to make sure he is comfortable in the car. And then of course, we have a July weekend in Indianapolis, so it’s going to be really warm. We want to make sure he stays nice and cool and comfortable in the car. So, the first priority was making sure we could get the car changed over adequately to suit his needs and to make sure he is comfortable. And then secondarily, since we will have to forfeit an up-front starting position and come from the back, our strategy is absolutely going to change. There are adjustments that we’ll make to our outlook for the racer and how we call the race. Again, with Justin’s recent experience with this Cup package and some of our cars, testing for the OEM’s, and through the Chevrolet simulator, he does have experience with the package and just with the quality driver that he is, I know he’ll be raring to go and to go have a good race. So, we’ll make sure that we call a good race and keep him comfortable in the car and march to the front."
CAN YOU CLARIFY THE TIMELINE WITH JIMMIE’S TESTING AND GETTING BACK IN THE CAR?
"Yeah, so just for clarification, we walked through this yesterday with NASCAR. And what Jimmie needs to be able to return to the track is two negative tests, with a minimum of 24 hours between those two tests; followed by a doctor’s release. So, if Jimmie were to go next week and test on Monday and go back again, 25 hours later and test again, and those tests are both negative, once he has a doctor’s release, theoretically he could be in Kentucky if that scenario lines up."
— Team Chevy —