NASCAR

NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson posts impressive time in Boston Marathon debut

On Saturday, seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson raced in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond, finishing 12th.

Less than 48 hours later, he traded his head-to-toe racing suit for a different type of racing apparel: running sneakers, shorts and a T-shirt.

The 43-year-old was part of the field in the 123rd Boston Marathon — wearing bib No. 4848, of course — and posted an impressive time.

‘Most challenging thing I’ve ever done’

Johnson is a triathlete, but this was his first time running a marathon.

His stated goal was to finish in three hours, and he came quite close, with a time of 3:09:07, averaging 7:17 per mile. He was 4,183rd overall (there were over 30,000 entrants) and 646th in the men’s 40-44 age group.

Lawrence Cherono out-sprinted Lelisa Desisa to win the men’s race.

“That was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, what an experience,” Johnson tweeted.

“I left the pace I wanted to try to hold and came up a little bit short of my goal,” Johnson told reporters after finishing. “I wanted to race it and really run hard and challenge myself.

“I need some food. I’m afraid to sit down. I might not get back up. Everything is starting to tighten back up right now.”

Johnson received his finisher’s medal from 2014 Boston champion and long-distance racing legend Meb Keflezighi, who served as grand marshal of this year’s race.

See photos from the race: 

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Scenes from the 2019 Boston Marathon

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Men’s winner Lawrence Cherono of Kenya crosses the finish line ahead of Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia during the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon on the sixth anniversary of the 2013 Boston marathon bombings in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. April 15th, 2019. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Kenyan Lawrence Cherono edges Ethopian Lelisa Desisa for first place for the Men’s Elite race, at the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. – Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono sprinted to victory in the Boston Marathon on Monday, overhauling Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa in the final few metres of the gruelling race to claim a thrilling win. In damp, chilly conditions, Cherono, Desisa and Kenya’s Kenneth Kipkemoi broke away from the field over the final few miles as the world’s oldest major marathon reached a dramatic conclusion. Desisa, the 2013 World Champion and two-time Boston Marathon champion, looked to be on course for victory as he kicked for home in the final 200m.But with the crowds at Boston’s famous Boylston Street finish line roaring them on, it was Cherono who timed his finish to perfection, overhauling the grimacing Desisa just a few metres from the tape to claim a magnificent win in 2hr 7min 57 sec. (Photo by RYAN MCBRIDE / AFP) (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)

Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, kisses the ground after winning the women’s division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, holds the trophy after winning the women’s division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Worknesh Degefa, left, of Ethiopia, winner of the women’s division, and Lawrence Cherono, right, of Kenya, winner of the men’s division of the 123rd Boston Marathon, hold the trophy at the finish line on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A runner tries to keep dry before the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Kenneth Kipkemoi, left, of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa, center, of Ethiopia, and Lawrence Cherono, right, of Kenya, compete in the final mile of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, of Charlotte, N.C., finishes the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, left, of Charlotte, shakes hands with grand marshall Meb Keflezighi, of San Diego, after finishing the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Fans cheer on the third wave of runners at the start of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, runs to the finish line to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

A Boston police officer stands with others near a memorial to the 2013 bombing near the finish line, during a moment of silence at the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Richard Reinhardt, left, of Columbia, Md., Nicholas Haddow, second from left, of Calgary, Canada, and Brian Prendergast, right, of Brick, N.J., help Matthew Harpin, of Marietta, Ga., as they approach the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Runners race to the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Boston Athletic Association Chief Executive Officer Tom Grilk, left, embraces Joan Benoit Samuelson, first women’s Olympics marathon winner, after finishing the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Judd Lorson, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., carries his 10-month-old son Logan across the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Hiroto Inoue, left, of Japan, and Elkanah Kibet, of Fountain, Colo., head to the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)




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It was ‘amazing’

Johnson, who was able to run through a sponsor’s exemption, was recognized by fans as he ran.

“It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve learned so much about myself. I just can’t believe how the city supports all the runners on the course,” he told WBZ-TV.

One of Johnson’s sponsors, Ally Racing, took over the fire station at Mile 17, in the town of Newton, handing out T-shirts and flags, and naturally Johnson got one of his biggest cheers as he passed by.

Because of his time, Johnson qualified to run Boston again next year, but the NASCAR schedule probably won’t be as favorable.

“Somebody told me that it doesn’t work out as well. I’d like to have Sunday to recover some [after a NASCAR race],” Johnson said. “If I can, I will.”

Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip completed the 2000 Boston Marathon, finishing in 4:42:20.

Touched by tragedy

This year’s marathon was held on the sixth anniversary of the finish-line bombing that rocked the race and the city of Boston. The tragedy touched Johnson’s Hendricks Motorsports team.

“We had somebody close to Hendrick Motorsports … was [because of] the bombing,” Johnson said. “Sean Collier was a security guard at MIT and was lost trying to apprehend the bombers. His brother [Andrew] worked in our engine shop and I’ve been able to meet with his family and spend time with them and take them to the races. I’ve been trying to bring up his name and honor him.”

Sean Collier was 26 when he was shot and killed in his vehicle by the Marathon bombing suspects during his regular night shift patrolling the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus.

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