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Daytona 500: Jimmie Johnson embraces marathon day; Daniel Suarez scrambles

Edgar Thompson, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Auto Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson was off racing on Sunday while most of his fellow drivers were having their first cup of coffee.

Donning his famous No. 48 on his race bib and with his competitive fire burning, Johnson left the starting line a little after 7 a.m. during the Daytona Beach Half Marathon.

Recounting the events of the day, the 44-year-old said he found another gear following a slow start to finish 39th out of 760 competitors and fifth in his age group (40-44) -- the latter a better barometer of success, according to Johnson.

"At the end I had a little more kick left and was able to chew away at the time and get it back down," Johnson said. "It was a fun day. I'm sore as hell right now."

Following his morning run, Johnson, who completed the 2019 Boston Marathon last April in an impressive 3:09:07, soon had to climb into his Chevrolet and qualify for the Daytona 500.

Johnson finished fourth with a time 46.419, just under his prediction of 46-flat, which would have edged pole winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and earned Johnson his third 500 pole (2002, 2008).

 

Johnson's crystal ball had been on point a day earlier when he envisioned a time of 1:32 to 1:33 in the half marathon.

"All the years of training, I kind of have a good idea," he said Sunday.

Known for his dedication to fitness, Johnson hopes to run the New York Marathon and Chicago Marathon down the road. The seven-time Cup Series champion is set to retire from full-time racing at season's end.

"I've always wanted to go over and ride before or after different stages of the Tour de France and go up some of those massive climbs," Johnson said. "I'll also have a little wine when I'm over there."

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