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NASCAR driver Johnson cleared to race after negative COVID-19 tests

Jun 28, 2020; Long Pond, Pennsylvania, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) makes a pit stop during the Pocono 350 at Pocono Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been cleared to race this weekend at Kentucky Speedway after twice testing negative for COVID-19, NASCAR officials said on Wednesday.

Johnson, 44, became the first NASCAR driver to test positive for the coronavirus last Friday, forcing him out the of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson tested negative twice this week – on Monday and Tuesday – and was cleared by his physician Tuesday evening in accordance with NASCAR guidelines.

"My family is so grateful for the incredible love and support we've received over the last several days," Johnson said in a team statement here.

“I especially want to thank Justin Allgaier for stepping in for me at Indy and being a true pro. I’m excited about getting back to business with my team this weekend.”

The driver change on Sunday ended Johnson’s streak of consecutive Cup Series starts at 663, a span that stretched back to his rookie season in 2002.

Hendrick Motorsports confirmed they had four crew members tested for the coronavirus following Johnson’s diagnosis, with all four receiving negative results.

Johnson, is currently 15th in the driver standings, 46 points above the cutoff for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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