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Gene Haas: door open to have F1 drivers try out NASCAR

Gene Haas, founder of the Haas F1 Team, and team principal Gunther Steiner talk about the progress made by the team ahead of their 2016 debut, what led them to sign Romain Grosjean and much more.

Could the drivers for Gene Haas’ Formula One team dip their toes into the waters of NASCAR?’

At the NASCAR Media Tour Thursday, Haas said he’d be “happy to accommodate” such an occurrence for Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean.

The co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing will oversee the F1 team’s first season of competition this year, 14 years after he broke into NASCAR as a team owner. Haas said he was present when Grosjean sat in the cockpit of Kurt Busch’s No. 41 car.

“He actually fits right into the 41 car, so I think he would very interested in doing that and we actually made it if we could accommodate him, we would put him in a Cup car to try it out,” Haas said. “I think any race car driver wants to see what another sport is like and see how he would do.”

Haas said he thinks that Gutierrez, a native of Mexico, and Grosjean, a native of Switzerland, are impressed by NASCAR.

“Formula One, obviously, is a different world as far as what the cars are, the rules packages and everything,” Haas said. “When the Formula One guys come over and drive these cars they realize these are not easy cars to drive, they’re big, heavy bricks. It takes a lot more talent to noodle one of these around the track than it does say a Formula One car, which is much more precise and accurate.”

Haas went on to say if an opportunity arose, they’d be happy to give either driver a seat in Sprint Cup’s two road-course races at Watkins Glen International or Sonoma Raceway.

Co-owner and driver Tony Stewart, who is a former IndyCar driver, then chimed in on the topic.

“I think if we’re going to do that, I think it’s only fair that we get to drive the F1 car,” Stewart said. “We are under the same umbrella here.”

“Definitely, a trade system here,” said Kurt Busch, who gave open-wheel racing a try with the 2014 Indianapolis 500.

The worlds of NASCAR and Formula One have crossed before. Stewart himself swapped rides with Lewis Hamilton at Watkins Glen International in 2011.

In 2003, Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya swapped cars and took laps around the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Three years later, Montoya made the jump to racing in NASCAR, competing in five races.

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