Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson says Fernando Alonso’s recent exploits racing in the United States have opened up “worldwide exposure” which he sees as a huge benefit for all parties.

Johnson met with Alonso at the Daytona media day this week with the two-time Formula 1 world champion preparing for his maiden Rolex 24 at Daytona race with United Autosports. Having made his Indianapolis 500 debut last year with McLaren-Andretti, Alonso returns to the stateside thanks to the backing from McLaren chief Zak Brown who co-owns the Anglo-American United Autosports squad.

Johnson says he’s kept a close eye on Alonso’s efforts both at the Indianapolis 500 and the upcoming Daytona 24-hour race and has been massively impressed by his efforts both on and off track.

“I've been a huge Alonso fans for a lot of years,” Johnson said at a NASCAR media day in Charlotte. “Just mentioned to him out there that the way he came and ran Indy, I mean, certainly did an amazing job in the car, but outside of the car.

“The friends that I have on the IndyCar circuit, just handled himself so well, did a great job. I think really brought a lot to the table when he raced here. Worldwide exposure on motorsports is really good for us here stateside.”

Free practice and qualifying for the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona gets underway today (Thursday 25th January) ahead of the race which takes place this weekend on the 27-28th January.

During the ‘Roar before the 24’ pre-event test, Alonso put his #23 United Autosports Ligier 12th in test qualifying with ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr topping the times with the #31 Action Express Cadillac Dpi.